US officials say a letter has been intercepted which appears to be from al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri to the terror network's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters the letter warned that the tactics used by the insurgents could alienate the wider Muslim population and that al-Qaeda faced defeat in Afghanistan. "
Zawahiri says that they've lost many of their key leaders... and that their lines of communication and funding have been severely disrupted," he said.
Al-Zawahiri also warns in the letter that activities such as killing hostages and bombing mosques risk alienating the "Muslim masses", who he says must be involved in the eventual governance of Iraq, Whitman told reporters.
The Pentagon spokesman did not give any details of how or where the letter was found, but he said they considered it authentic. The New York Times however, quoted one official as saying the 6,000 word long letter - which is said to have been written in Arabic - was dated early July and was discovered during operations carried out by US troops in Iraq.
Al-Zawahiri - an Egyptian-born doctor - is number two after bin Laden in the US government's 22 Most Wanted Terrorists list, issued in 2001, and has a 25 million dollar bounty on his head. The last reported sighting of him was in the eastern Afghan town of Khost in October 2001....
Aljazeera is also reporting:
"What this letter demonstrates is that they also know the importance of Iraq," he said. "They understand how important Iraq is to their effort, as being central to their efforts right now, to their strategy and to their long-term plans."
Wonder if he'll listen...