Who whom — who is doing what to whom? — was Lenin’s question. The same question is raised by the murder of Nicholas Berg. The new issue of the Weekly Standard has a good profile of Berg’s butcher by Robert Leiken and Steven Brooke: “Who is Abu Zarqawi?”
The article enumerates the many Jihadist groups waging war on the West, and Zarqawi’s affiliation with several of them. Toward the end it quotes from an intercepted communication to which I have not seen reference elsewhere:
In January 2004, Iraqi Kurds captured a message from Zarqawi in Iraq to bin Laden. Zarqawi offered bin Laden a chance to expand al Qaeda’s role in Iraq. Victory, Zarqawi instructed, meant fomenting sectarian war between Shiites and Sunnis. There are no indications that bin Laden responded, and there are now signs of cooperation between some Iraqi Shia and Sunni militants. Are bin Laden and Zarqawi running competing terrorist organizations in Iraq?
Zarqawi’s letter is addressed to a colleague or even a potential competitor rather than to one he regards as his sheikh or emir. He offers darkly, “We do not see ourselves as fit to challenge you.” Zarqawi gives bin Laden two choices: “If you agree with us . . . we will be your readied soldiers, working under your banner, complying with your orders, and indeed swearing fealty to you publicly and in the news media. . . . If things appear otherwise to you, we are brothers, and the disagreement will not spoil [our] friendship.”
And who was Nicholas Berg? In his New York Daily News column Zev Chafets has the best exploration of the question that I have seen: “The Berg dilemma.”