An anti-American operative in Iraq appealed for help from al-Qaida leaders to help spark a sectarian war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in an effort to drive the U.S. out of the country, a newspaper reported Monday.
The alleged plan is outlined in a 17-page memo that U.S. forces confiscated from an al-Qaida suspect in Iraq, The New York Times reported. The paper said its reporter viewed the Arabic document and a military translation on Sunday.
The Times says the document is the strongest evidence to date of contacts between extremists in Iraq and al-Qaida.
The document expresses frustration over efforts to force the United States out of Iraq and suggests that attacks on Shiites would prompt Sunni retaliation and a cycle of widening violence, the Times said.
" It is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us ," the document says. " If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis who are fearful of destruction and death at the hands " of Shiites.
U.S. authorities believe the memo was written by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian who is suspected of having ties to al-Qaida, the Times reported.
The paper said that American forces arrested a man who had the document on a computer disc and was taking it to Afghanistan to get it to al-Qaida's senior leaders. U.S. officials did not identify the man who had the document.
The author of the document claimed he had directed about 25 suicide bombings inside Iraq, but said the resistance against the U.S. occupation was struggling to recruit Iraqis and to combat American troops.
The memo even offers a kind of praise for U.S. forces, saying " America, however, has no intention of leaving no matter how many wounded nor how bloody it becomes. "