Appeal to Osama: 'Holy warriors' are in a race with time

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

ABU DHABI Abu Mussib Al Zarqawi is regarded as the most lethal insurgent in Iraq, but he has again appealed for more help.

In a message posted on Islamic websites, a message said to be from Al Zarqawi betrayed hints of desperation at prospects for the Islamic insurgency against the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. In the nine-page message to Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden, Al Zarqawi reiterated that his insurgents were racing against time to destabilize the post-Saddam Hussein government and its security apparatus.

"We are not competing with you," Al Zarqawi said in his message. "We just want to be the head of the spear, a bridge by which the [Islamic] community can reach victory."

This was the second message by Al Zarqawi to Bin Laden in less than a year, Middle East Newsline reported. In October 2003, U.S. intelligence intercepted a message by Al Zarqawi to Bin Laden that also appealed for help and warned of victory by an emerging U.S.-sponsored Iraqi government.

In his latest purported message, entitled "The Text of Al Zarqawi's Message to Osama Bin Laden About Holy War in Iraq," Al Zarqawi reviews the Islamic strategy as well as his organization's achievements. He said his group, "Monotheism and Holy War," plans to continue targeting Iraqi police and security forces in the effort to destabilize the U.S.-supported government in Baghdad.

"We are planning to heavily target them during the coming stage before they are in full control," the statement said. "What is coming will be more [attacks], God willing."

On Tuesday, Al Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the previous day's suicide car bombing in Baghdad that killed 13 people, five of them foreign contractors. Al Zarqawi pledged to launch additional attacks.

Western intelligence sources said they could not determine whether Al Zarqawi actually wrote the message. They said the Jordanian-born Islamic insurgent has mastered the use of the Internet for psychological operations against the U.S.-led coalition. The sources cited the videotape posted on Islamic websites of the beheading of U.S. national Nicholas Berg, a contractor in Iraq.

Many of the themes in Al Zarqawi's purported message reflected that of his letter to Bin Laden in 2003. They included the need to spark a civil war in Iraq and the fear that an effective Iraqi security force could end the Islamic insurgency.

"The room for maneuver has started to become smaller," Al Zarqawi said. "The grip is getting tighter around the necks of the holy warriors. With the deployment of soldiers and police, the future has become frightening." Al Zarqawi said his group was trying to organize battalions to take over Iraq before national elections, scheduled for January 2005. Once again, he raised the prospect that Islamic insurgents would fail and either be expelled or killed.

"[If we fail,] we will have to leave for another land to uphold the Islamic banner, or until God chooses us as martyrs," the statement said.

Al Zarqawi said his group has carried out 25 suicide operations against a range of targets in Iraq. He cited Shiites, Iraqi police and security forces and U.S. troops. He said the Shi'ites, the largest sectarian group in Iraq, remain the key to Iraqi stability while he dismissed the Sunnis as politically unaware and divided.

"If we succeed in dragging them [Shi'ites] into sectarian war, we could wake up the Sunnis," Al Zarqawi said.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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