BAGHDAD -- Al Qaida drafted a plot to kill tens of thousands of people by poisoning Iraq's water supply.
A letter written by a senior Al Qaida operative -- and found by U.S. troops -- detailed a plot to poison Iraq's water supply with nitric acid. The 11-page letter, intended for Al Qaida network chief Abu Ayyoub Al Masri, outlined a series of plans to expel the U.S.-led coalition, kill tens of thousands of Shi'ites and destroy the Iraqi security forces.
"This will lessen the pressure against us and the holy warrior brothers in all of Iraq when the enemies fight among themselves and weaken," the author of the letter, known only as Abu Safyan, said.
An Iraqi man is detained by U.S. forces for alleged links to Al Qaida in Iraq in Diyala Province, in March. AFP/David Furst
Abu Safyan was killed in a counter-insurgency operation in the province of Diyala on March 5. The letter was found on his body, translated and analyzed by the U.S. military and Iraq Army.
The U.S.-led coalition released all but two pages of the handwritten letter. Officials said the censored portion of the letter contained actionable intelligence.
"This document is just one man's articulation, one terrorist's views about instigating conflict and turning Iraqis against each other," U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner said. "But it is also quite consistent with the patterns of violence we see from AQI."
Abu Safyan proposed a reorganization of Al Qaida in Iraq. In his recommendation, Al Qaida would be divided into a unit of snipers, experts in assassinations and suicide bombers. The three groups, he wrote, would coordinate to "bring down the city or the area."
The document called for Al Qaida attacks on Iraqi oil fields and pipelines as well as sinking oil tankers and ships. The attacks would take place in Basra, Kirkuk and Baghdad.
"Attack all the targets that strengthen the enemy economically and militarily," Abu Safyan wrote. "Even the American Army will weaken since it depends on the Iraqi oil and gas wealth. The enemy will gradually drown step by step."
They believe their own propaganda? We're there for oil?
At the same time, Al Qaida must launch a chemical attack and contaminate Iraq's water supply. He said such a strike would convince the U.S. military that Al Qaida had acquired chemical weapons.
"But in fact it's a psychological war that places fear in the enemy," the letter read.
Another recommendation was that Al Qaida foment tension between the coalition forces and Iraqi groups, particularly the new Sunni-dominated auxiliary police force, termed Awakening movement. Abu Safyan called for the infiltration of the Sunni cadres before planting and detonating mines "in their villages and streets."
Bergner said the author's call for violence against the Awakening movement reflected its threat to Al Qaida. The auxiliary force has grown to nearly 100,000 and includes Shi'ites.
"These writings are further examples of the corrupt ideology that Iraqis are broadly rejecting," Bergner said. "We have seen about 100,000 men choose a different path and join local volunteer groups like the Sons of Iraq instead."