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Posted by on May 27, 2007 in War | 2 comments

Al Qaeda’s al-Zawahiri Wants Jihad Exported By Iraqis

Al Qaeda bigwig Ayman al-Zawahiri has reportedly sent a letter urging Iraqis to export jihad — with the goal of creating a “greater Syria,” Times Online reports:

THE deputy leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has urged supporters in Iraq to extend their “holy war” to other Middle Eastern countries.

In a letter sent to the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq in the past few weeks, Zawahiri claims that it is defeating US forces and urges followers to expand their campaign of terror.

He conjures a vision of an Islamic state comprising Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, where Al-Qaeda has already gained its first footholds.

The goal of an Islamic “greater Syria”, first outlined by Zawahiri two years ago, is detailed in the letter amid growing concern about the activities of new groups under Al-Qaeda’s influence in the countries concerned.

As this piece notes, Zawahiri has noted this before. It’s the letter’s timing, and the repetition of this goal, that makes it significant. Times OnLine has some reaction from an American official:

Zawahiri’s letter was sent to Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and intercepted by a Middle Eastern intelligence service.

A senior American security source said he was aware of the letter and Al-Qaeda’s growing emphasis on spreading jihad through a volatile region.

The source said Zawahiri, a Sunni, was determined to prevent Lebanon falling into the hands of the Shi’ite Hezbollah movement, which has tried to bring down the government.

“Al-Qaeda is trying very hard to seize a foothold in Syria,” the American source added.

This letter will become one more factoid but not have the kind of impact it might have had if the Bush administration’s credibility was greater. Al Qaeda’s long-range goals have been well-known for a long time. Its desire to radicalize the Middle East region with its ideological brand by working with those that detest establishment governments is no secret.

The administration’s problem now is that it has so politicized the war (suggesting Democrats are soft on terrorism, don’t care about terrorism, or will provide an opening for terrorists if they get into power does not forge cooperation or consensus) that any new facts in line with some of what it argues will be discounted or distrusted by a large chunk of Americans as inaccurate, overblown or manipulated. (If it turns out this letter was actually leaked to a reporter by an American who said it was obtained from a Middle Eastern source, then the story will be completely discounted in many circles as questionable.) It’s hubris.