Dan Darling, counter-terrorism consultant for the Manhattan Institute, writes on what the Ayman al-Zawahiri letter tells us about the enemy. He states:
The letter does not suggest a man cut off from outside information ("More than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media," he notes), but rather an opponent who is intelligent enough not to believe his own propaganda (or the view of Iraq brought to him by the international media). Instead, he earnestly seeks a candid assessment of the situation on theground from Zarqawi, so that he can better advise him and the rest of the network on how to proceed.
Darling also notes that al-Zawahiri's interest in Iraq goes back well before the March, 2003 invasion. Indeed, page 66 of the September 11 report states the following:
In March 1998, after Bin Ladin's public fatwa against the United States, two al Qaeda members reportedly went to Iraq to meet with Iraqi intelligence. In July, an Iraqi delegation traveled to Afghanistan to meet first with the Taliban and then with Bin Ladin. Sources reported that one, or perhaps both, of these meetings was apparently arranged through Bin Ladin's Egyptian deputy, Zawahiri, who had ties of his own to the Iraqis.