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Iraqi officials have released copies of a letter purportedly written by senior al-Qaida leaders to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in the days before al-Zarqawi was killed in an American airstrike.

The letter, part of a trove of documents taken after the airstrike and now being released by the Iraqi government, outlines attempts to foment sectarian violence and provides a window into the inner working of al-Qaida in Iraq, led by al-Zarqawi and nominally part of the larger al-Qaida framework.

The letter was released Monday by Mowaffak al Rubaie, the Iraqi National Security adviser, but distributed by public affairs officials at the U.S. military command in Baghdad.

According to a translation provided by Rubaie’s office, the letter was sent from Attyia al-Jaza’ri, an Algerian high-ranking figure of al-Qaida. Among highlights of the letter:

Al-Zarqawi is criticized for making military political decisions without asking higher leaders of al-Qaida outside of Iraq. Indeed, the letter writer criticizes al-Zarqawi and reminds him that he is viewed only as an operational commander, not as a political or religious leader.The letter says that senior al-Qaida leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan are “unhappy with methods in Iraq,” particularly attacks targeting civilians and possibly turning Iraqis against the group.Al-Jaza’ri purportedly asks al-Zarqawi to step down as al-Qaida in Iraq leader in favor of other, better-qualified men.Al-Zarqawi and five others were killed on June 7 when an F-16 dropped two 500-pound bombs on a home near Baqouba where he was meeting his spiritual adviser.

“Attached are documents that Dr. Rubaie’s office has asked us to forward to the western press,” read a message from the U.S. press center in Iraq, in releasing the letter. “We have no knowledge of the matters contained in this message. If you have any questions, please contact the government of Iraq.”

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