Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Friday, October 14, 2005

Black Ops Outtakes and Bloopers

05 MAY 2006: You are probably looking for this. [Via La Repubbica: Video showing Zarqawi in New Balance shoes and a machine gun, said to have been found by the US Military in Yusufiya in April: genuine and un-photoshopped]

There's been a great deal of controversy surrounding a letter purported to be from Ayman al-Zawahri, the No.2 man at al-Qaeda, to guerrilla leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The letter caused a sensation because al-Zawahri was said to have chastized al-Zarqawi for attacks on mosques and fellow Muslims and suggested a rift within the movement.

The first thought which struck me was, a letter??--and we thought al-Qaeda was high-tech! Now they're writing letters on parchment delivered by donkey-mail!

Juan Cole was the first to smell a rat when he recalled that the two notorious figures were adversaries. Prof. Cole also noticed the bizarre use of a Shi'ite greeting in a letter to a Salafist!

Tonight a Reuters dispatch reports on more unexplained errors anomalies in the text:

US cannot explain suspicious Zawahri letter passage
Reuters 15.10.05 | 01h37

By David Moran

WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - U.S. intelligence officials who released a letter purporting to be from an al Qaeda leader to Iraq insurgency leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi this week said on Friday they could not account for a passage that has raised doubts about the document's authenticity.

The July 9 dated letter, which U.S. officials say was written by al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri, appears near its close to urge the Iraq insurgent leader to send greetings to himself if visiting the Iraqi city of Falluja. [Do you think this is a little cut-and-paste mistake?--Nur]

"My greetings to all the loved ones and please give me news of Karem and the rest of the folks I know," says an unedited English translation posted at, the office Web site of U.S. intelligence chief John Negroponte.

"And especially, by God, if by chance you're going to Falluja, send greetings to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi," it states.

Zarqawi is the Jordanian-born leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, the most prominent segment of the deadly Iraq insurgency. His organization has said the letter is a fabrication.

A spokesman for Negroponte, who is the U.S. director of national intelligence, or DNI, acknowledged the greetings passage was confusing but said the intelligence community was confident the letter was addressed to Zarqawi by Zawahri.

"We don't know what to make of it (the passage). It's unclear," the Negroponte spokesman said.

"But we are absolutely confident that it was intended for Mr. Zarqawi, based on a review by multiple agencies over a protracted period of time."

U.S. officials have refused to disclose details of where, when or how authorities came by the letter, or what methods have been used to determine its authenticity. [They don't want to tell whose ass they pulled it out of!--Nur]

Some experts contend the strange passage undermines the letter's credibility.

"This would appear to be conclusive evidence that the DNI was mistaken, and that the letter was written to someone other than Zarqawi," Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists said on on Friday in his e-mail intelligence newsletter, "Secrecy News."

Aftergood cited an article in the online Slate magazine that called attention to the passage as well as the fact the letter was signed with the name, Abu Muhammad. [The gremlin of cut-and-paste strikes again!--Nur]

Experts have already said the letter depicts Zawahri as making unrealistic admissions involving al Qaeda's need for money, the Pakistan army's hunt for al Qaeda leaders and the May capture of al Qaeda member Abu Faraj al-Liby.

The greetings passage gained little noticed from initial news coverage of the letter's release, which came days before this weekend's constitutional referendum in Iraq.

News coverage concentrated instead on language that suggested rifts between al Qaeda militants, including Zawahri's advice that insurgents avoid the unpopular killing of civilians and begin seeking public support for an Islamic state.


Blogger markfromireland said...

Confound it you pipped me at the post :-)

8:48 AM  
Blogger ziz said...

There used to be, on UK racecourse inthe 50's a tipster who was extravagently dressed in faux Indian costume (Red Indian) who styled himself Prince Monolulu.

Clutching a fan of sealed envelopes he would loudly proclaim " I gotta 'norse" "I gotta norse" and invite the assembled crowd to but the revelatory envelopes with their list of sure fire winners from him.

Perhaps his ghost is the source of their good luck in intercepting and obtaining an evidently garbled text of the domestic correspondence of terrorists. Not many photocopiers on the Syrian border ... rapidly becoming the Cambodia of Iraq.

Watch out or HK will suggest a little light bombing.

2:00 AM  

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