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The al-Qaeda spokesman wrote in a letter that al-Qaeda should distance itself from its affiliate in Iraq and the Pakistani Taliban
Central Asia Online is publishing excerpts from 17 documents discovered during the Abbottabad raid in Pakistan that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
The documents consist of electronic letters or draft letters written between September 2006 and April 2011, authored by bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders.
Some of the letters highlight the tense relationship between some al-Qaeda leaders and their regional affiliates and allies. Many leaders were displeased with the actions of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Pakistan Taliban.
The documents also show significant divergence between al-Qaeda's leadership and the forces on the ground over the targeting of civilians and waging war against local targets.
A 'split in the ranks'
In a letter addressed to an unidentified recipient in late January 2011, Adam Gadahn, an al-Qaeda spokesman and media advisor, criticised the tactics of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Pakistani Taliban and advocated for al-Qaeda to publicly dissociate itself from both groups.
Commenting on the attack on a Baghdad church in 2010 by the Islamic State of Iraq, Gadahn wrote:
"Praise to God, where is the stand of the Islamic State of Iraq on Christians, from the stand of sheikh Osama in his speech (The Solution) three years ago?
Strange, I swear the conflict between the statements of our leaders and scholars, and the acts of those allied with them, or you may say: those claiming to follow them!
I do not see any obstacle or bad act if the al-Qaeda organisation declares its discontent with this behaviour and other behaviours being carried out by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq without an order from al-Qaeda and without consultation from al-Qaeda leadership… and that their independent decision has caused a split in the mujahideen ranks and their supporters inside and outside Iraq.
This is the only solution facing the al-Qaeda organisation, otherwise its reputation will be damaged more and more as a result of the acts and statements of this group, which is labelled under our organisation (the blessed with God's will).
And among the repulsive issues -- and certainly forbidden -- are the targeting of mosques with explosives and other, such as what is happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan and sometimes in Iraq. We still need to clarify our justifications to the Muslims before we clarify it to the Europeans…"
Gadahn mentioned a long list of attacks the Pakistani Taliban committed against civilian targets and mosques and attacks by al-Shabaab in Somalia that killed doctors who were graduating from medical school in Mogadishu.
"This is a drop from a flood, and a little from plenty, as I have tried to concentrate on events that I am sure are truly attributed to the mujahideen and those who are allied with them, or events that I believe are truly attributable. Otherwise the list is quite long; also, I did not talk about events related to robbery, kidnapping and other crimes committed by those corruptors.
It is known that taking over of mosques and spilling the (blood) of innocents was known through history to be associated with the worst groups and individuals… Now, the people famous for such acts are those associated with jihad and the mujahideen, like the Hamas movement and the Taliban movement in Pakistan and Afghanistan!
I have no doubt that what is happening to the jihadist movement in these countries is not misfortune, but punishment by God against us because of our sins and injustices, or because the sins of some of us and the silence of the rest of us… "
'Repulsive' jihadist forums
In a section devoted to al-Qaeda's media strategy on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Gadahn called on bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri to reach out to international journalists to "explain our mission in their newspapers and channels" and not to rely exclusively on Al-Jazeera and "repulsive" jihadist forums.
"To rely only on Al-Jazeera and the jihadist forums on the internet is not useful. Al-Jazeera seems to impose conditions like other channels, agencies and papers to cover al-Qaeda announcements, namely to include a threat or to claim responsibility for an act. As for the messages of diplomatic tone, like the sheikh's two messages about the flooding [in Pakistan], is [deemed] unsuitable for publication in their media, as this is an aspect of al-Qaeda [they believe] should not be exposed to people.
As for the jihadist forums, it is repulsive to most of the Muslims, or closed to them. It also distorts the face of al-Qaeda, based upon what you know about bigotry and the sharp tone that characterises most of the participants in these forums. It is also biased towards (Salafists) and not any Salafist, but the Jihadi Salafist. Salafism is but one trend among the Muslims trends, and Jihadi Salafism is a small trend within a small trend!"
Gadahn also called for bin Laden to make a public appearance to "raise the morale" of the jihadists.
"We should also not forget the mujahideen brothers on the front who are passing through crucial times and facing disaster after disaster. They also will be happy to see the sheikh again. His appearance will raise their morale with the help of God. I would think that it is suitable for the sheikh to deliver a video address to the mujahideen in all the arenas, consoling, urging them to endure, confirming their steps and guiding them."