Saturday, October 15, 2005

Suspicions rise over Jihadi mash-note

Is it or isn't it? As discussed in an earlier post (War on Brains), further examination of the alleged letter from al-Zawahiri to al-Zarqawi is leading some to doubt its authenticity. From Reuters:
"The July 9 dated letter, which U.S. officials say was written by al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri, appears near its close to urge the Iraq insurgent leader to send greetings to himself if visiting the Iraqi city of Falluja." [The passage in question:] ""My greetings to all the loved ones and please give me news of Karem and the rest of the folks I know,"..."And especially, by God, if by chance you're going to Falluja, send greetings to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi""

The new U.S. Director of National Intelligence, John "what death-squads?" Negroponte, can't explain the Falluja passage. ""We don't know what to make of it (the passage). It's unclear," the Negroponte spokesman said." Another detail casting doubt on the letter's origin is the fact that it's signed "Abu Muhammad". The Reuters article goes on to quote Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists: "This would appear to be conclusive evidence that the DNI was mistaken, and that the letter was written to someone other than Zarqawi".

Fred Kaplan, over at Slate, dismisses these oddities and maintains that the letter is authentic. **Update** to Dr. Juan Cole's post about the letter: Prof. Cole has received a great deal of feedback about his comments on the letter. He has written an updated post and still contends that the letter is a forgery.

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