Iraq-Based Jihad Appears to Seek Broader Horizons

(New York Times) Douglas Jehl - Over the last two years, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has risen to prominence on the front lines of the anti-American fight in Iraq. But American intelligence officials say that Zarqawi, a Jordanian, long ago set his sights more broadly on an Islamic jihad extending to the Mediterranean. The American officials said Thursday they had no reason to doubt a claim of responsibility for Wednesday's bombings in Jordan issued by Zarqawi's organization, Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Zarqawi has seen a widening insurgency as an opportunity, and American intelligence officials say it is one that he has carefully nurtured. Zarqawi has long harbored deep hatred for Jordan's Hashemite monarchy, and his organization has maintained roots there. An American counterterrorism official said that Zarqawi's longstanding goals include the establishment of a single Islamic state throughout the Levant. Zarqawi himself outlined those goals in a 2004 letter to top al-Qaeda leaders that was intercepted by the American military. "We know from God's religion that the true, decisive battle between infidelity and Islam is in this land," Zarqawi said, referring to what he called "Greater Syria." Zarqawi has succeeded in enlisting support from Iraqi militants as well as foreigners, and he has benefited from an influx of jihadists from Saudi Arabia, other Persian Gulf countries, and, increasingly, from North African countries including Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.

2005-11-11 00:00:00

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