After reading Ayman al-Zawahiri’s creepy letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, discovered in Iraq, I guessed immediately how the apologists would explain it away: a forgery! Right I was. From the Daily Kos to (Juan) Cole’s Curse—al-Qaida’s exculpators were out in full force on the blogosphere, prowling for the telltale signs of a sham.
The letter has an authentic ring. It’s low-key, eerily gentle, even demure. It has a certain quality and cadence—a mood that PSYOP could not have recreated easily. But then I’m not particularly invested in the forgery theory, as the dilettantes on the hard left are. They’re as attached to febrile foreign-policy fantasies as the administration—their view of the enemy is every bit as lacking in nuance.
According to the administration, al-Qaida is in business because “they hate our freedoms”; the radical left claims al-Qaida was created, ex nihilo, by America’s foreign misadventures. Neither faction is right. Each becomes apoplectic when its intransigent theories are challenged.
Thus, one fair and balanced bloviator for Bush dismissed as a liberal idea the no-brainer that America’s presence in Iraq is exacerbating that Category-5 hurricane. Similarly, when faced with evidence that the two Al-Zs and their foot soldiers aim to consolidate “a caliphate in the manner of the Prophet,” left-liberals let rip with their brand of bloggerel. “Counterfeit,” they crow.
It’s not that I trust our government’s veracity. Far from it. But rational suspicion of power is predicated on 1) distrusting all power, not only American power, as the Left does. 2) Distrusting some potentates a wee bit more than others, as reason, facts, and context dictate. The U.S. says the thing’s authentic; al-Qaida says it isn’t. The U.S. makes a stronger case, not least because a forgery seems so futile. What purpose would it serve? To make Bin Laden’s Capo Bastone (Zawahiri) appear worse than he is? To make Americans like the lieutenant (Zarqawi) less? To make Muslims admire Zarqawi less? Not possible.
Most Americans detest these thugs; most Muslims think they’re innocent, framed by the “Zionists” and the Americans. That is if the say-so of Egyptian professor Abd Al-Sabour Shahin reflects the Muslim majority. Shahin, one of Islam’s leading lights, is not alone. Ask countless Islamic clerics, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Palestinian Authority leaders and “intellectuals,” Hamasniks, Grand Muftis, plus powerful elements in the press and governments of Egypt, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia—they all agree: 9/11, 7/7—you name it; Israel and the U.S. planned it.
Against the advice of “a lot of [his] Muslim and Arabist readers,” one blognoscente opted to rely on the following sources in pronouncing the letter a forgery: al-Qaida via Aljazeera and… his gut. Leftists seldom do gut-override. Think of the unbearable cognitive dissonance that would generate. For in the missive, Zawahiri actually criticizes aspects of the insurgency. By contrast, some on the far left (joined by a few far-gone libertarians) hold up the insurgents as inspiring role models of resistance to government tyranny. That these cold-blooded murderers are soaking Iraqi soil with the blood of innocents is a pesky detail ignored for the most by this lot. Now Zawahiri has put them to shame.
He asks Zarqawi to reconsider the wisdom of culling so many Shia. He broaches the topic by telling his murderous mate that it is necessary to bring “the Muslim masses to the mujahed movement.” To that end, killing so many of them is probably not helpful. Yes, the Shia are a handful, he concedes. They aren’t kosher theologically, have cooperated with the Americans against Saddam and the Taliban, and, all together, have a history of “connivance with the Crusaders.” But while Zawahiri is no fan of theirs, he thinks they ought to be forgiven—not slaughtered for—their “ignorance.” Besides, he adds as an afterthought (or as a rhetorical flourish), it’s impossible for the mujahedeen to kill all Iraq’s Shia.
Zawahiri is no charmer. And yes, his critique is based on logistics, not ethics. But it’s more of a critique than the token “tsk tsk” offered by the assorted Lawrenthians who claim this missive was forged. What a bruiser for the American fans of the Iraqi “resistance”!
“The shaykh [sic] of the slaughterers” also gets told by Zawahiri to quit hacking off heads. A bullet to the back of the head is more likely to win the hearts and minds of the Islamic “Umma,” says Bin Laden’s second-in-command.
There is a special spot for Israel in Zawahiri’s pan-Islamic plot. As it turns out, it’s not “the occupation” that is the thorn in his side but Israel’s existence. Israel is at the heart of the Islamic world—it was planted there by “the enemies of Islam” and needs, very plainly, to be excised. Again, you can see why those who’ve fetishized the Palestinian cause would prefer to dismiss this note.
The Left and their (very few) libertarian and paleoconservative friends think they can tweak the Islamic edict on Israel out of existence like some unsightly nose-hair. This old chestnut, however, has been corroborated by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Jihad Central. Galvanizing a ruling by the late, cankered Khomeini, Iran’s President has reaffirmed the urgency of wiping Israel off the map.
Clearly, even if the Zawahiri epistle is inauthentic it is not necessarily untrue.
© 2005 By Ilana Mercer