Zawahiri letter: 'fake but accurate'?

Zarqawi denies the letter is authentic. Read more. This morning the WashTimes Bill Gertz was on The Right Balance radio show, and mentioned in passing the letter may be a deception or a forgery. I was on the show later (had not heard his comments at that point) and when questioned about it, pointed out an anomaly noticed by someone I know at a think tank.

Zawahiri uses both Muslim dates and 'Christian/Western' dates, although it is an internal communication. These dual dates have never been used by Zawahiri before, and are included in the Arabic original. When al Qaeda uses 'Christian dates', it's usually because the piece is intended for publication.

Examples from the letter:

"I made sure in my last speech-that Aljazeera broadcast Saturday, 11 Jumadi I, 1426h, 18 June 2005-to mention you, send you greetings,"

"The Bitter Harvest - The Muslim Brotherhood in 60 Years - Second Edition 1426h - 2005m."

"Saturday, 02 Jumada al-Thani, 1426 - 09 July, 2005."

Of course anomalies do not constitute proof of forgery, and further data needed to arrive at such a conclusion is presently lacking. I don't know whether or not Gertz has extrapolated based on this anomaly or is even aware of it.

Now Fox News just had an intel analyst on, Robert Ayers, who said even if the letter is not "real" is "is accurate."

Say what?

Update: 10/14

I'm hearing more rumblings (from sources who don't want to be named) that the letter may be an "Influence Operation." The sources say several things are fishy. So for anomaly watchers, here we go (these are quotes from an email):
  • One, is that we apparently found the original letter, suggesting we 'closed the loop' and have been reading mail of senior al Qaeda for months, yet appear to not know where they are at (at least for public consumption)
  • The date referring to an Al-Jazeera airing is incorrect.
  • This July letter gives specific instructions as to how to handle the Shia, yet it is in Sept. that Zarqawi declares all-out war on them.
  • It was written July 9, but there's no mention of the 7/7 London bombings.
  • It mentions effectiveness of Paki military ops when there is little in the way of evidence to support that idea. (except for about 3-4 weeks in May w/ US help)
  • The source (and I) doubt Zarqawi is in Iraq. In fact, I have heard from US intel sources, that he is not.
  • Al Qaeda is working w/in Iranian strategy in Iraq, yet there's no mention of that at all. [Al-Qaeda strategy and tactics in Iraq is serving both theirs and Iran goals. The extremely short version is that by declaring all out war on the Shi’a they are driving the Shi’a population further into the hands of the Iranians who can provide them with security through both their own organizations and what I would venture to say their either formal or informal control over Al-Qaeda. Therefore, the areas that cooperate with the US get hit and the areas that cooperate with Iran become safe havens. This is in addition to their increasing control over the social services, security organizations and most importantly the political institutions on both the national and local levels. ]

The summary of one person: "It reads like it was written for our consumption."

Make of the anomalies what you will.

On other content: The idea of the caliphate (within the 2020 strategic vision) was already publicized, and experts around the world have already indicated Iraq is being used as a base to train mujahideen and send them back out to attack Western targets. A French anti-terrorism judge has been in media a lot lately discussing this grave concern of the French. Recent arrests in London indicate the bombing operation (in its late stages) included Iraqis.

Update #2

My anon source adds another anomaly:

  • "Not to mention this little tidbit:

    'God Almighty has blessed me with a daughter whom I have named (Nawwar), and Nawwar means: the timid femal e gazelle and the woman who is free from suspicion, and technically: it is the name of my maternal aunt who was a second mother to me.'

    Why would one Arab need to explain to another Arab the meaning of an Arabic word? Add to that the only meanings I can find online for Nawwar are May, Fire-Worshipers, and Blacksmiths"


Also he wrote: "If I am right and this was and influence operation it is going to come flying apart in to our faces in the next week or so, because whoever did it made too many mistakes, unless this story can be buried by something else. After all if I can figure it out anyone can, and if and when this breaks the blowback of this kind of American hand in the cookie jar could severally hurt us in the Middle East, Europe and with an already skeptical American media that would likely declare all out war on the Administration over this."

By the way, bloggers discussing this are all pointing to Juan Cole's post about how the salutation of the letter sounds too Shiite-ish.

My source thinks, well that "what Juan Cole knows about the realities of the Middle East could fit in a shot glass."

He adds: "Well I think he is wrong on his anaylsis. Number one the biggest problem with his analysis is that it falls back to some imagined gulf between the Sunni and Shi'a when it comes to the radicals. It also does not ta ke account of the fact that most of the Al-Qaeda leadership have lived in Pakistan/Afghanistan and or Iran now for almost 15 years in addition to almost 8-10 years in the 1980's which would have caused a bleeding over of cultural idioms. And perhap s most importantly it ignores how much Iran actually controls Al-Qaeda these days. Iran is not going to write something like this we would though."

See my article: Zawahiri 'Letter' Draws Increasing Skepticism

Update: 11/5/08

Here's a link to the above story -published elsewhere. Seems after several years, it's been removed from the original site.