ISRAELI military intelligence officials have accused President George W Bush’s administration of undermining their attempts to infiltrate Al-Qaeda’s operations in Iraq by revealing the contents of a secret letter written by Osama Bin Laden’s second-in-command, writes Uzi Mahnaimi.
Israel passed the letter — in which Ayman al-Zawahiri outlined his Middle East strategy to Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, the Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq — to Washington last October on condition of strict anonymity.
Israeli officials were dismayed, however, when John Negroponte, the US director of national intelligence, made it available in both English and its original Arabic on his office web site.
Bush then referred to it during his weekly address. “The Al-Qaeda letter points to Vietnam as a model,” the president declared. “Al-Qaeda believes that America can be made to run again. They are gravely mistaken. America will not run and we will not forget our responsibilities.”
Israeli intelligence sources said officials who had worked on “Operation Tiramisu” inside Iraq took emergency steps to protect their sources, but it was not clear how successful they had been in averting the damage to their intelligence network.
They said Bush’s indiscretion had undone months of painstaking effort.