Pentagon: Bin Laden deputy complains about money, Iraq tactics
U.S. says it obtained intercepted letter
From Jamie McIntyre
Ayman al-Zawahiri in an image from a videotape released in September.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An intercepted letter from Osama bin Laden's deputy to the al Qaeda leader in Iraq complains that the terrorist network is short of cash and faces defeat in Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesman says.
The United States obtained a recent letter that appears to be from Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's No. 2 figure, to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, outlining both the strategy and concerns of the terrorist network, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.
In the letter, al-Zawahiri warns that some of the tactics currently employed by the insurgency, including the slaughtering of hostages and the suicide bombings of Muslim civilians, may risk alienating the "Muslim masses," Whitman said Thursday.
Reading from a summary of the letter, Whitman said al-Zawahiri concedes that al Qaeda has lost many key leaders, is resigned to defeat in Afghanistan, and that its lines of communication and funding sources have been seriously disrupted. Al-Zawahiri includes a plea for financial support, indicating he is strapped for money, Whitman said.
He could not say when the letter was intercepted or when authorities believe it might have been written.
The lengthy communication was said to detail the strategy of Muslim extremists to push the United States out of Iraq and establish an Islamic state that could expand its form of governance to neighboring countries, Whitman said.
Senior U.S. officials told CNN that the 6,000-word letter is believed to have been written within days of the July 7 terror attacks in London. Only parts of the letter have been made public, the officials said.
The decision to confirm the existence of the letter came after an incomplete and partially inaccurate version was leaked to news organizations, the senior officials said.
Earlier Thursday, President Bush made similar points about the terror network in what aides billed as a "major speech" on the war on terrorism, which was launched after al Qaeda's September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.
Bush repeated his long-standing contention that Iraq had become the central front in that conflict, and said a U.S. withdrawal from that currently unpopular conflict would leave behind a country ruled by bin Laden and al-Zarqawi.
"We will not stand by as a new set of killers dedicated to the destruction of our own country seizes control of Iraq by violence," Bush said. (Full story)
CNN's David Ensor contributed to this report.
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