Al-Qaida in Iraq 'sought war between US and Iran'

Terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi planned to try to destroy the relationship between the United States and its Shiite allies in Iraq and help start a war between America and Iran.

This appeared to be the case according to a summary of an al-Qaida in Iraq document released by prime minister Nouri Maliki today.

Documents purporting to reflect al-Qaida policy and its cooperation with groups loyal to ousted president Saddam Hussein were found in al-Zarqawi’s hideout following an air strike that killed the terrorist mastermind, the prime minister’s office said.

One said the US military’s programme to train Iraqi security forces to replace American troops was working, according to the announcement.

“Generally speaking and despite the gloomy present situation, we find that the best solution in order to get out of this crisis is to involve the US forces in waging a war against another country or any hostile groups,” Maliki’s office said.

There was no way to confirm the authenticity of the information attributed to al-Qaida in the announcement, which said Iraqi forces that took part in the killing of al-Zarqawi found “a number of documents” that provide “the broad guidelines of the programme of the Saddamists and the takfiris inside al-Zarqawi’s group.”

Takfiri is a reference to an extremist ideology that urges Muslims to kill anyone they consider an infidel, even fellow Muslims. It is the ideology that many Iraqis, especially in the Shiite community, use to describe al-Zarqawi and his followers.

National security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie referred to the statement as an al-Qaida document, but its language was different from the vocabulary used by al-Qaida statements posted on the internet. For example, it does not refer to the Americans as “Crusaders” nor uses the term “rejectionists” to allude to Shiites.

Much of what is in the statement echoes results the US. Military and the Iraqi government say they are seeking. It also appears to conform with language used by American and Iraqi officials to debunk al-Qaida in Iraq and its operatives as a group of imported extremists bent on killing innocent civilians.

Al-Qaida in Iraq has been blamed for thousands of deaths, hundreds of bombings, kidnappings and assassinations over the past three years. Al-Qaida in Iraq’s own hatred of the Shiites is well documented and al-Zarqawi has repeatedly called on Sunnis to rise up and kill them.

According to the document, insurgents were being weakened by operations against them and by their failure to attract recruits. To give new impetus to the insurgency, they would have to change tactics, it added.

“We mean specifically attempting to escalate the tension between America and Iran, and American and the Shiite in Iraq,” it said, especially among moderate followers of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

“Creating disputes between America and them could hinder the US co-operation with them, and subsequently weaken this kind of alliance between Shiites and the Americans,” it said, adding that: “The best solution is to get America involved in a war against another country and this would bring benefits.”

They included “opening a new front” for the US military and releasing some of the “pressure exerted on the resistance”.

It pointed to clashes in 2004 between US forces and followers of radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army militia as evidence of the benefits of such a strategy. Al-Sadr and his growing followers are among the fiercest advocates of a US withdrawal from Iraq.

It said the “results obtained during the struggle between U.S. army and al-Mahdi army is an example of the benefits to be gained by such struggle”.

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