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Tuesday, February 10, 2004
 
Al Qaeda Letter Fails the Sniff Test

The 17-page document found at a supposed "al Qaeda safe house" seems mighty fishy to me. The upshot, that attacks should be staged against Shia targets in order to bring them into open conflict with the "sleepy Sunnis, who are fearful of destruction and death," in order to "prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and [Al Qaeda]" seems like an unnecessary strategem.

Attempts to pull together a government by the June 30 deadline are already highlighting differences between ethnic groups. Just about all of the local military and police (and paramilitary, etc.) have partisan affiliations, and therefore cannot be counted upon to neutrally uphold the law. No matter how a government is formed, there are bound to be a lot of armed people who will be unhappy with it. Given the 800 lb. gorilla status of the Shiites at the moment, it's a very good bet that it will be the Sunnis, and, to a lesser extent, the Kurds, who will be motivated to disrupt things.

If we've pulled out by then, a civil war is highly likely, the Bush administration is going to look awful, and muslims around the world are going to be awfully pissed off--advantage Al Qaeda. If we still have lots of soldiers on the ground then, we'll be putting them in harm's way between would-be combatants, and de facto undermining the legitimacy of the Iraqi government--advantage Al Qaeda. They win either way.

Al Qaeda doesn't need to foment conflict in Iraq--it exists already, and is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. It just doesn't make sense for them to expend resources and risk exposure doing something that is patently unnecessary. Therefore, I conclude the letter is almost certainly a fabrication.

For an interesting hypothesis concerning why such a fabrication might have been made, Hesiod's got the goods.