Ayman al-Zawahiri har sendt et brev til lederen av al-Qaida i Irak med beskjed om å starte jihad i andre arabiske land. Planen er en islamistisk storstat, omfattende Libanon, Palestina og Syria.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, has urged supporters in Iraq to extend their «holy war» to other Middle Eastern countries.
In a letter sent to the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq in the past few weeks, Zawahiri claims that it is defeating US forces and urges followers to expand their campaign of terror.
He conjures a vision of an Islamic state comprising Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, where Al-Qaeda has already gained its first footholds.
The goal of an Islamic «greater Syria», first outlined by Zawahiri two years ago, is detailed in the letter amid growing concern about the activities of new groups under Al-Qaeda’s influence in the countries concerned.
In Syria, the Al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Suri is believed to have been arrested, but cells are said to be recruiting in Palestinian camps near Damascus, the capital. Al-Qaeda websites are demanding the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.
Zawahiri’s letter was sent to Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and intercepted by a Middle Eastern intelligence service.
A senior American security source said he was aware of the letter and Al-Qaeda’s growing emphasis on spreading jihad through a volatile region.
The source said Zawahiri, a Sunni, was determined to prevent Lebanon falling into the hands of the Shi’ite Hezbollah movement, which has tried to bring down the government.
«Al-Qaeda is trying very hard to seize a foothold in Syria,» the American source added.