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The letter has shown up on "Islamic web sites," and was ostensibly sent to Osama bin Laden by al-Zarqawi in Iraq, but hasn't been authenticated. From AP:

"The space of movement is starting to get smaller," it [the letter, that is] said. "The grip is starting to be tightened on the holy warriors' necks and, with the spread of soldiers and police, the future is becoming frightening."

The letter mentions (non-specific) plans to intensify attacks leading up to the handover, a desire to lure Shiites into sectarian war, and an apparent attempt to reassure Osama that Zarqawi isn't trying to usurp al Qaeda's place.

The coming spin is obvious, of course: American troops are succeedin, any intensification of attacks in the coming months will just be more desperation, and so on. You can already witness the storyline taking shape on Newsmax. Here's the lede:

Al Qaida's most dangerous operative, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, has personally warned terror kingpin Osama bin Laden that his troops are under intensifying pressure from U.S. forces in Iraq and prospects for a terrorist victory look bleak.

The second paragraph admits in passing that the letter might not be authentic, but that isn't allowed to get in the way. The point, of course, is that Bush is winning the War on Terror: Zarqawi is al Qaeda, the insurgents are terrorists, so Zarqawi admitting troubles means al Qaeda and therefore terror are on the retreat.

Sure it is. Back to sleep, children.

Originally posted to gong on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 09:46 PM PDT.

Poll

The letter

3%2 votes
80%42 votes
13%7 votes
1%1 votes

| 52 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Somehow I don't think (none)
    Henry Waxman (D-CA) is reassured by this "letter"....  I heard him on Lou Dobbs say if we take Colin at his word that they (State) did not cook the books on their
    "we are winning/terrorist attacks are down" memo, which was, according to Waxman, to be a definitive accounting that world governments could refer to (YIKES) and now as Waxman says if it was not cooked then they are as Colin readily acedes in desperado fashion incompetents.
    We is scrooood.

    I guess we have Gen. Boykin Rules of Engagement: our god is bigger.

    by Marisacat on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 10:05:21 PM PDT

  •  It ... (none)
    sounds mighty suspicious to me.  And of course we know now, trust nothing we read in the media at face value.

    But just suspose it is accurate.  There are likely dozens of these resistance groups of varying sizes (many growing bigger all the time thanks to US ineptitude).  So what if Zarqawi's whole group is destroyed tomorrow?  The tragedy that is Iraq still rolls on...

    Anyhow, this one smells kinda fishy...

  •  Zarqawi writes in a LETTER (4.00)
    that he is getting his ass kicked and is "frightened."

    Go ahead and tell me another one.

    "Our purpose is to get this dangerous incompetent out of the White House." - Digby

    by Armando on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 10:13:42 PM PDT

    •  I agree (none)
      This letter is so ridiculously fake.  No one over the age of five years old should be fooled into believing it's actually a real letter from Zarqawi.  

      Why would he even be writing Osama anyway?  I'm not sure he'd even bother to send word (he's not actually a part of Al Qaida, despite the propaganda to the contrary).  Furthermore he could just send someone to tell him or deliver it personally.  

      What's the story that he tried to send it Fed Ex?  Was there some suspicious powder in it that caused them to open it up and look inside?  Just ridiculous...

      In Britain they admit to having royalty. In the United States we pretend we don't have any, and then we elect them president.

      by Asak on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 12:23:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  More Lies and BS!! (none)
    Timing is such a funny thing! Right before the handover, a letter apears offering hope that we are FINALY winning. Well between Ashcroft's precision timing on alerts and "updates" and the X-Mas prestent known as the capture of Saddam, I am beginning to worder if Zarqawi is even a real being, nevermind believing that some poor sap in Ohio (that was arrested in November but we hear about it today) was almost,maybe , trying to bomb a mall! Then there was last week's testimony that made him look like a douchebag. Shorlty after there is an alert to be on the lookout for a Pakastani woman that was reportedly arrested last year! F*&*ing gag me with this BS already! We are smarter than they believe we are! NOVEMBER 2nd WILL PROVE IT!
    •  Zarqawi (none)
      Oh, I've been pretty sure for a while that one of the following is true:
      • Zarqawi is a CIA operative
      • Zarqawi doesn't exist
      • Zarqawi used to exist but was killed (as his associates claimed) in March, and since then the CIA has used his name for shoddy disinformation work
      I'm not sure which of these is right. But it's pretty clear to me that Zarqawi serves two nice functions. To fill the necessary role of the evil villain (OBL in Iraq, if you will). To serve as the anchor for a bunch of claims about Al Qaeda and Iraq, none of them true.
  •  They're refloating something from months ago (4.00)
    How inept is the Times? I remember those exact quotes from a supposed "captured computer disk from Zarqawi" several months back, and the Times story doesn't even make the connection.  

    Just Googled and found it.  Here's a WaPo story from February 9th:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A25736-2004Feb9?language=printer

    Same thing, same "letter".  Coming back for seconds on what might have been bogus in the first place.  

    Of a piece with Cheney continuing on the Saddam-AQ connection.

    I don't belong to any organized political party, I'm a Democrat--Will Rogers

    by Dancing Larry on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 10:19:46 PM PDT

    •  great catch! (none)
      I'm trying to figure out what it means, other than that the Times didn't have anyone with enough knowledge or presence of mind to make the connection.

      If DOJ or someone else fed this story to the press as a new event, not yet reported, the Times will soon discover that this is false, if it hasn't already. They won't be happy about being made to look stupid, even though only news junkies like us notice. It seems in the end to just make the Times more pissed and less able to trust some of the government sources who are feeding it. A stupid move in the long run for this administration, made by someone who is thinking about polls in July rather than November.

      Don't understand NY politics? Try The Nor'Easter

      by jd in nyc on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 10:27:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If they are the exact quotes - (none)
      you should bring that to the attention of whoever is reporting it. That would show its obviously bogus.

      (Although alternatively it may be a stock tranlation of a common phrase...)

      Think strategically

      by daunte on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 10:31:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OK. I'm going to research this further (none)
        I'm sure if I look at enough things, I'll find it.  It's too glaringly similar.

        I don't belong to any organized political party, I'm a Democrat--Will Rogers

        by Dancing Larry on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 10:33:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Email Juan Cole (none)
          IIRC, he did his own translation of the original letter. I think he found the standard translation kind of lacking. At any rate, he'd be able to see whether the original arabic was the same--and whether they were "stock" phrases in Arabic.
    •  Nice catch... (none)
      ...if it's right. But I don't see any matching quotations. The only quotation given from the earlier letter was, "We are going to target and strike them in their military, political and religious depth." Other than that, the Post just printed spin. Also, if it matters, the supposed point of the earlier purported letter was quite different (the earlier one was trying to get more fighters into Iraq, the new one warning of troubles).

      Also, it's not a Times story, it's AP.

    •  Oops (none)
      The matching quotations are from memory, not from the Post, so my comment above is a bit off-target. Then I second daunte's post: if you can confirm in more detail, that would be fantastic. (Not that the letter isn't already fishy, but if it's the same fishy letter as last time, that would be very special.)
      •  OK I have my first match (4.00)
        5 (sic) - TheTiming for Implementation

        From

        February 12, 2004

        Full Text of "Al-Zarqawi Letter"
        This document was found on a computer disk after U.S. forces arrested Hassan Ghul, an al-Qaida courier in northern Iraq. The author of the document is believed to be Fadhl Nazzal Al Khalaiylah, aka Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian affiliated with al-Qaida who is suspected of being behind a wave of suicide bombings in Iraq.

        http://www.ict.org.il/documents/documentdet.cfm?docid=62

        It is our hope to accelerate the pace of work and that companies and battalions with expertise, experience, and endurance will be formed to await the zero hour when we will begin to appear in the open, gain control the land at night, and extend it into daylight, the One and Conquering God willing. We hope that this matter, I mean the zero hour, will [come] four months or so before the promised government is formed. As you can see, we are racing against time. If we are able, as we hope, to turn the tables on them and thwart their plan, this will be good. If the other [scenario] [happens] - and we seek refuge in God - and the government extends its control over the country, we will have to pack our bags and break camp for another land in which we can resume carrying the banner or in which God will choose us as martyrs for his sake.

        From the current Times article

        The statement says the militant movement in Iraq is racing against time to form battalions that can take control of the country ``four months before the formation of the promised Iraqi government, hoping to spoil their plan.'' It appears to refer to the government that would take office after the elections scheduled for January 2005.

        I don't belong to any organized political party, I'm a Democrat--Will Rogers

        by Dancing Larry on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 10:59:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Times article link (4.00)
          for ease of comparison

          http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/international/AP-Iraq-Al-Zarqawi.html

          sorry left it out of prior post, tired.

          I don't belong to any organized political party, I'm a Democrat--Will Rogers

          by Dancing Larry on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:01:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  And (4.00)
          Times:  It goes on to assess the militants' record in Iraq, claiming 25 suicide operations targeting majority Shiites, American and Iraqi forces, and other coalition troops. ``What is coming will be more, God willing.''

          From the full text of the earlier "Zarqawi letter":  Praise be to God, I have completed 25 [operations] up to now, including among the Shi`a and their symbolic figures, the Americans and their soldiers, the police and soldiers, and the coalition forces. God willing, more are to come.

          I don't belong to any organized political party, I'm a Democrat--Will Rogers

          by Dancing Larry on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:07:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Third times a charm (4.00)
            Times:  If the militants fail to take over Iraq, ``we will have to leave for another land to uphold the (Islamic) banner, or until God chooses us as martyrs,'' the statement says.

            And from the text of the earlier letter:  If the other [scenario] [happens] - and we seek refuge in God - and the government extends its control over the country, we will have to pack our bags and break camp for another land in which we can resume carrying the banner or in which God will choose us as martyrs for his sake.

            I don't belong to any organized political party, I'm a Democrat--Will Rogers

            by Dancing Larry on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:15:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  DL (none)
              You should forward your catch to Daniel Okrent.  I wouldn't be so sure they'll catch their error internally...
            •  PS (none)
              "To reach the public editor, Daniel Okrent, e-mail public@nytimes.com or telephone (212) 556-7652."

              Nice job.

              •  Thanks (none)
                I'll start cutting and pasting to that email now.  I have to say, I've had some bizarre interactions with Daniel Okrent in the past, he seriously gives me the willies.

                I don't belong to any organized political party, I'm a Democrat--Will Rogers

                by Dancing Larry on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:35:23 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  it's NOT an NYT story (3.50)
                it's an ASSOCIATED PRESS story posted on the new york times web site. the new york times didn't write the story and isn't responsible for it. calling okrent is useless. call the AP if you're concerned about it.

                non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

                by gracchus on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:42:34 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  RE: (none)
                  It it is in the print edition than the Times is responsible for it.  It it is on their online breaking news sidebar from AP, than arguable less so ... although they should ultimately be responsible for their content wherever it comes from.

                  Further, by informing the Times and assuming the Times takes it up with AP, it puts pressure on AP to do better in the future about this kind of thing.

                  Zero is for comments that are offensive, script-generated, or otherwise content-free and intended solely to annoy and/or abuse other readers.

                  by jg on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:57:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  that's an ineffective approach (none)
                    newspapers don't have the time or staff to check wire copy for accuracy, and don't. this is a structural issue and won't change, no matter how many letters they get -- this is how ALL newspapers work, so the times doesn't deserve singling out. the `responsibility' papers take for wire copy is VERY limted. any complaint about the copy will be passed straight along to the wire service. you may as well cut out the middleman.

                    non-resident or non-u.s. citizen? want to (legally) help defeat bush? see www.overseasvote.com

                    by gracchus on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 12:22:45 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  RE: (none)
                      Well, I am certainly not advocating that the TImes alone should receive complaints, but its liking suing potential defendants, put all their names in the complaint!

                      Zero is for comments that are offensive, script-generated, or otherwise content-free and intended solely to annoy and/or abuse other readers.

                      by jg on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 12:50:18 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

  •  What a joke (4.00)
    Nothing I've read from Iraqi sources or from anyone else with direct knowledge of the country suggests that the so-called "insurgents" ever had much to do with Al-Qaeda.

    This is pure Neocon propaganda, on the same level as the claim that "foreign fighters" are responsible for the "resistance" in Falluja, Najaf and indeed everywhere else in Iraq.

    Besides, isn't it now obvious that Al-Qaeda is concentrating on Saudi Arabia, not Iraq?

    •  Vewy twue.... (none)
      This is pure Neocon propaganda

      I think we should write them back:  

      Knock yourselves out again guys, we weren't shocked, we weren't awed.  Tell Harlan Ullman to read Sun Tzu - right side up this time....
      ;-)

      I guess we have Gen. Boykin Rules of Engagement: our god is bigger.

      by Marisacat on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 10:53:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Call me bitter (none)
    "Al Qaida's most dangerous operative, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, has personally warned terror kingpin Osama bin Laden that his troops are under intensifying pressure from U.S. forces in Iraq and prospects for a terrorist victory look bleak."

    I remember not so long ago when Howard Dean accidentally called Hamas fighters "soldiers" and there was a rather large uproar, with a large portion of that fake outrage coming from the same NewsMax that wrote that article! Now they go calling these insurgent terrorists "troops"?! Ironic, huh?

  •  RE: (none)
    Does anyone think that a postcard from Iraq by Zarqawi is necessary?  I just can't believe that Al Qaeda operatives and cell leaders provide quarterly reports to each other.  From what I have read over the years, Osama is no longer coordinating attacks and might not even be able to provide seed money.  

    While it might be true that Zarqawi and his cell is having a harder time in Iraq (fewer soft targets - the US standing down for the most part), I don't believe that Al Qaeda leaders, which is an umbrella term, go around providing written updates to each other on how hard things are going.  

    It is fanciful to think this is so - next we will have uncovered love letters from Mulla Omar to Osama.  The question is where did it really come from ... and that list of suspects is endless.

    Zero is for comments that are offensive, script-generated, or otherwise content-free and intended solely to annoy and/or abuse other readers.

    by jg on Mon Jun 14, 2004 at 11:39:39 PM PDT

  •  Sounds like the "Yellow Cake" order (none)
    Same m.o. as the forged "Yellow Cake" order, signed in triplicate by a purchaser named "Mickey Mouse."
    •  The Letter Is Fake Just Like (none)
      the first one was. Total fakery.

      In the first one, he supposedly was asking for Osama and Al Quada's help in Iraq, right?

      Well, the stupid asswipe that faked that missive simply FORGOT that if Zarqawri was asking for help, that it meant that OBL and AQ WERE NOT IN IRAQ as claimed by the Bushies prior to the war.

      Ergo, no connection between them and Saddam.

      So the very first "letter" was a fake and so is this one.

      And, not a very good one. It is obviously written by someone, a Chalabi type, who writes whatever he thinks will make the war pushers happy.

      God, they are so stupid.  Amazingly stupid.

      It's in keeping with them making Zarqawri a super mythical terrorist of amazing capabilities UNTIL they realized how stupid they looked not able to find this super human in Iraq with 138,000 troops, and mercenaries and FBI and CIA and millions on his head.

      This one legged man was singlehandly beating the snot out of the CPA  - and they coudn't find him.

      Wow. What a guy.

      You can't always tell the truth because you don't always know the truth - but you can ALWAYS be honest.

      by mattman on Tue Jun 15, 2004 at 03:30:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  LOL. (none)
    What a joke is right.
    There is no fucking way I'd believe that.
    The authors should have been a bit more subtle.
  •  One more thing... (none)
    <<"The space of movement is starting to get smaller," it [the letter, that is] said. "The grip is starting to be tightened on the holy warriors' necks and, with the spread of soldiers and police, the future is becoming frightening.">>

    Imagine, a guy who is going to have 75 pieces of pussy waiting for him when he dies is frightened of the future.

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