BAGHDAD, Iraq — The U.S. military said Tuesday it has seized a letter from Iraqi insurgents believed to be intended for Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi complaining about low morale among followers and weakening support for the insurgency.
The authenticity of the letter — which the military said American troops found Thursday in a raid in Baghdad — could not be independently verified.
The letter — which never refers to al-Zarqawi by name — is written to Sheik Abu Ahmad, a name not known to be used by the militant leader or his followers. But supporters often call al-Zarqawi the Sheik or Sheik Abu Musab in letters and on Web sites.
“What has happened to myself and my brothers is an unforgivable crime, but God will punish the oppressor,” the letter reads. “I swear by God that you will be asked about what happened to us because you have not asked about the situation of the migrants. Morale is down and there is fatigue among mujahedeen ranks.
“There is discrimination by some of the brethren emirs. God would not accept such actions, and a simple mistake delays victory, so what about big mistakes and gross guilts? Many underestimate them and are lenient toward them.”
The letter is dated April 27, the military said.
The author of the letter also “admonishes ‘the Sheik’ for abandoning his followers” after last year’s U.S. siege on Falluja, west of Baghdad.
U.S. forces led an assault then on the Sunni Triangle city’s terrorist network believed to be run by al-Zarqawi.
Because of the “continuous pressure by Iraqi and [U.S.-led] coalition forces,” a military statement said, al-Zarqawi has relied on his cell leaders to conduct operations while he is forced to evade being killed or captured.
Pentagon officials said last week that U.S. troops nearly caught al-Zarqawi in February after receiving a tip that he might be traveling to Ramadi, west of Falluja.
The author of the letter, the military said, is a member of the terrorist group known as al Qaeda in Iraq.
The author’s name is Abu Asim al-Qusaymi al-Yemeni, the military statement said.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the letter reflects “a certain amount of proof that [al-Zarqawi’s] influence and effectiveness is deteriorating.”