Osama deputy letter says iraq to be islamic
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Posted on Fri, Oct. 07, 2005
Letter: Terrorists want Islamic state in Iraq
WASHINGTON - The United States has obtained a letter from one terrorist leader to another that discusses plans to force a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, create an Islamic state there and then spread their fight into neighboring countries, Pentagon officials said.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman would only broadly characterize the intercepted letter, which he said was written by Osama bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahri to the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Whitman indicated that the letter was written in July, but he would not say where, when or how it was obtained, or who intercepted it. He said the Pentagon is confident it is authentic but has not yet decided whether to release it publicly.
Whitman said the letter demonstrates "that there is this detailed planning and intent on the part of the insurgents in Iraq to one day control that country and to really try to extend their extremism to neighboring countries. It demonstrates to me they clearly understand the importance and significance of the battle in Iraq right now."
In the letter al-Zawahri urges Zarqawi - who has declared war on Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority - to avoid bombing mosques and slaughtering hostages to avoid alienating the masses, Whitman said.
He also said that al-Zawahri asked Zarqawi for some financial support.
Whitman said he was not certain whether the letter mentioned bin Laden, the top al-Qaida leader.
Pentagon officials said the letter confirmed the Bush administration's assertions about the roots of the insurgency. It was released Thursday evening after a presidential speech, designed to revive public support for the war in Iraq, in which Bush said the insurgents want to establish and spread a radical Islamic empire, beginning with Iraq.