Zarqawi not al-Qaeda: Comment by David Wright
David Wright, a former Defense Department analyst and former Army Reserve strategic intelligence analyst has sent the following letter to the Washington Post and shares it here as a guest commentary:
‘ In some of your reporting (but happily not all) you refer to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as “a top Al Qaeda operative”, etc.
There is no evidence that Zarqawi, a Jordanian operating in Iraq, has ever been an Al Qaeda member – although Cheney and a few others in the Bush administration continue to try to paint him that way, apparently for political reasons.
Zarqawi is a dangerous, highly effective militant Islamist. His tactical and strategic abilities have been behind perhaps 50% or more of the most effective attacks against the U.S. and Coalition forces (and the UN, Red Cross and peaceful Iraqis) over the past year. Zarqawi makes common cause with Osama Bin Laden (UBL) and Al Qaeda in some respects.
So far, however, there does not appear to be any evidence whatsoever that Zarqawi has received ANY money, personnel, direction, or support of any nature from UBL or Al Qaeda. In the past year he is known to have twice tried to get support from UBL, without success. In one intercepted letter he said that if UBL and Al Qaeda would support him and his resistance group in Iraq, he would accept UBL as his leader and support him in turn. No sign, however, of any response.
And consider: Despite Zarqawi’s dozens of actions within Iraq against the U.S. and Coalition forces, and Iraqis who are seen as supporting the Coalition — many of which have been devastatingly successful such as the boat attacks on the Basra oil shipment points, and last year’s bomb attacks against UN and Red Cross headquarters – UBL and Al Qaeda have NEVER taken credit for those attacks in their own press releases.
Please consider your editorial policy, as to how the Post will refer to Zarqawi in your various articles and broadcasts. This is a rather important point, since repetition by the Post of the Bush administration “Big Lie” connecting Zarqawi to Al Qaeda appears to be a callous effort to influence U.S. public opinion without any factual basis. It is factual to mention (as often as you feel appropriate) that a few members of the Bush administration contend that Zarqawi is related to Al Qaeda. (One senior member of Congress indeed conflates Abu Musab al Zarqawi with Ayman al Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician who is indeed UBL’s senior surviving assistant.) But it is important to recognize that neither the U.S. military, the CIA nor Colin Powell make this claim.
Thanks for listening.
Ironically, Zarqawi did go from Jordan to Afghanistan for training back in the Eighties, in the days when the U.S. wanted help in pushing the Soviets out – guess who provided the money for his training! But Zarqawi thereafter created camps separate from those of UBL; and has ever since been seen as a competitor, not a member of UBL’s team.
PS: Wouldn’t it be a good idea if THE WASHINGTON POST.com updated its profile on this important man, and provided links to that profile in your articles that mention him?
Finally: I’ll go out on limb, and predict that Zarqawi will be captured or killed within the next 60 days. The U.S. military has figured out that it was a mistake to allow Fallujah to become a sanctuary for Zarqawi and the
scores of resistance fighters that he leads. If and when he is neutralized, my guess is that 2/3 of the successful militant attacks will cease right away – and the resistance thereafter may fade to nothing.
David C. Wright
Santa Monica CA USA
Former (long ago!) Defense Department analyst, former Army Reserve strategic
intelligence analyst ‘