I have had a chance to examine the letter the Coalition forces say they found on a Compact Disk on the person of al-Qaeda courier Hasan Ghul.
The fax of the letter that I received, unlike the version published in the Arabic newspapers has “from” after the invocation of God, and three ellipses showing that the name has been deleted. If the original said Zarqawi there, it is odd that it is deleted, because the CPA announced Zarqawi as the author.
I cannot confirm that the letter was written by Zarqawi. For instance, it calls the Americans “Amrikan“, whereas in the Levant the colloquial plural is Amrikiyin. Amrikan is an Iraqi and Gulf way of referring to Americans. Likewise, the letter’s attitude to the Kurds seems strange if the author actually had trained dozens of them to fight the secular parties in Kurdistan. The letter puts the Kurdish issue on the back burner, in a way I can only suspect Zarqawi would not have. Finally, Zarqawi is said to have not finished high school, whereas this letter is extremely literate, using a high-flown vocabulary and chaste classical literary style. It would be like finding a letter purportedly written by a Mafioso who dropped out of high school that sounded as though it were written by Paul Theroux.
I can, however, confirm that it was written by a radical Sunni Muslim, who hates Shiites and wants to fight the Coalition troops in Iraq in the most effective way. I did not see any false notes in it that might suggest it is a fraud. The author suggests attacking Shiites so as to provoke an ethnic civil war that would amake it easier to push the US out.
As I suggested in my refutation of Safire’s calumn, the letter is very contemporary and does not refer to Saddam, and does nothing to suggest a Baath-al-Qaeda link.