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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Zarqawi to bin Laden: "The future is becoming frightening"

The good guys just might be winning in Iraq
AP CAIRO, Egypt - A leader of militants in Iraq has purportedly written to Osama bin Laden saying his fighters are being squeezed by U.S.-led coalition troops, according to a statement posted Monday on Islamic Web sites.

It was not possible to authenticate the statement allegedly from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian whose insurgent group claimed responsibility for the videotaped beheading of American Nicholas Berg.

Titled "The text of al-Zarqawi's message to Osama bin Laden about holy war in Iraq," the statement appeared on Web sites that have recently carried claims of responsibility for attacks in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

"The space of movement is starting to get smaller," it said. "The grip is starting to be tightened on the holy warriors' necks and, with the spread of soldiers and police, the future is becoming frightening". . . .

U.S. authorities believe al-Zarqawi runs his own terrorist operation but is an ally of bin Laden, whose al-Qaida network orchestrated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The nine-page statement was longer than previous ones from al-Zarqawi, and uses classical Arabic language and poetry typical of militant leaders. The statement isn't signed.

If the militants fail to take over Iraq, "we will have to leave for another land to uphold the (Islamic) banner, or until God chooses us as martyrs," the statement says.

It goes on to assess the militants' record in Iraq, claiming 25 suicide operations targeting majority Shiites, American and Iraqi forces, and other coalition troops. "What is coming will be more, God willing."

The message also apparently seeks to reassure bin Laden that Iraqi militants are in league with his al-Qaida extremists. "We are not competing with you. We just want to be the head of the spear, a bridge by which the (Islamic) community can cross to victory," it says.

The statement puts the Iraqi militants' enemies into four categories: the Americans, the Kurds, Iraqi police and soldiers; and the Shiites. Of the Shiites, it says: "If we succeed in dragging them into sectarian war, we could wake up the Sunnis."

Shiite Muslims constitute Iraq's largest sectarian group. The second biggest are the Sunni Muslims, whom the statement describes as "politically unaware and divided." The third community is the Kurds.

More on Zarqawi: Jordanian Said to Have Wide Terror Links.