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2/13/04 -  AL-QAIDA IN IRAQ - 2004-02-13

Coalition forces in Iraq intercepted a courier and found a letter written by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian affiliated with the al-Qaida terrorist network. U.S. Army General Mark Kimmit told The New York Times newspaper that the seventeen-page document discussed twenty-five specific attacks in Iraq.

Dan Senor, the coalition spokesman in Iraq, says that the letter urged an al-Qaida-backed campaign to turn Shiite Muslims in Iraq against Sunni Muslims:

“It seems that the primary focus as outlined in this document is to provoke sectarian warfare in an effort to tear apart the country, target Shia leaders and Shia holy sites and Shia religious individuals in the hope that they will extract revenge against Sunnis and then after that begin to engage the Kurds. Pit one Iraqi against another and hope that the whole net result will be bloodshed and a torn-apart Iraq."

In the letter, al-Zarqawi acknowledges the success of coalition efforts in Iraq and the failure of the terrorists to win the Iraqi people to their cause. “We can pack up and leave and look for another land, just like what has happened in so many lands in jihad,” he writes. “Our enemy is growing stronger day after day, and its intelligence information increases.”

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says that the letter is very revealing”:

“They described the weaknesses that they have in their efforts to undercut the coalition’s efforts. But at the same time, it shows they haven’t given up, they’re trying to get more terrorists into Iraq, and they’re trying to create more terrorist organizations to try to defeat our purpose.”

“All we want is peace of mind,” says Muhammad Shakir Jaafar, a businessman in the Iraqi city of Sadr.