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U.S. Releases Text Of Purported Al-Zawahri Letter

12 October 2005 -- The U.S. government has released the text of a letter it says was written by Al-Qaeda's second-ranking leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence claimed the letter, dated 9 July, was obtained during counterterrorism operations in Iraq. The office said it has the "highest confidence" in the letter's authenticity.

In the letter, al-Zawahri calls on al-Zarqawi to garner public support for forming an Islamic government when U.S. forces leave Iraq.

Al-Zawahri purportedly recommends an eventual expansion of the war to Iraq's neighbors, including Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria, leading to a clash with Israel.

Al-Zawahri also questions the wisdom of Al-Qaeda in Iraq's policy of killing Shi'ite Muslim civilians, saying in the letter that this is unacceptable to most Muslims.