Letter from Balqa’ Jail

The Jihadi Media Elite (Nukhbat al-I`lam al-Jihadi) has posted a notebook that Zarqawi dedicated to his sister, Umm Qudama, and to his brother-in-law, Abu Qudama. According to the colophon, Zarqawi finished writing the notebook on May 31, 1998 from Balqa’ prison in Jordan.

The Jihadi Media Elite posted images of the first five pages, which Zarqawi titled “the introduction,” but there are links to the rest. This is going to be a very important primary source for those interested in understanding Zarqawi’s psychological development and his time in prison.

Here’s a summary of the introduction:

  • Part of the Sunna is that God’s servants are tested so they can be distinguished from the insincere.
  • Suffering imprisonment and torture is the lot of God’s Messengers and those who follow them.
  • Our tormentors have no power over us. If we survive, we will see God’s promises fulfilled. If we die, we will attain paradise.
  • We do not walk this path alone. Our families walk it with us, especially our mothers and sisters.

Here’s one of the final passages:

O sister! How much you have suffered on account of my imprisonment for the sake of my religion. But be patient no matter what, tender sister. God willing, there will be an eternal meeting for us in the presence of a powerful King in the gardens of Eden, together with the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs, and the righteous–those are the best of friends.

Zarqawi ends with a poem:

I wrote you a letter, O my sister,

Which I made of my soul’s ardent desire.

The first thing I write is the fire of my heart

And the second is my love and longing.

The third is when my eye beholds you

And the fourth is the day of rejoining.

Document (Arabic): 6-20-08-ekhlaas-zarqawi-notebook-balqa-prison-19981

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5 Responses

  1. Wow! Does Crayola know that their products are being used to propagate terrorism? But on a more serious note, Will, is there any sources on imagery usage by Islamists that may be informing–e.g. the black flag. I know CTC put out that one document, but any others?

  2. Heh.

    I don’t know of any other resources for militant Islamist imagery. If others do, I’d love to hear about them.

  3. Perhaps it’s a bit late and maybe others have drawn your attention to it before (I hadn’t seen this post until today) but one of the pages shown above (top row, middle page) can also be seen on page 23 of a book called “Al-Zarqawi – Al-Jil al-Thani li-l-Qa’ida” (Beirut: Dar al-Khayyal, 2005) by a Jordanian journalist called Fu’ad Husayn. He also shows two other pages that seem to come from the same notebook on pp. 21-22 of his book. Husayn spent time in prison with Al-Zarqawi and knows him personally. He may have the entire notebook.

  4. Joas, that is an excellent find. This must be in the paper edition of the book? I only have it as a word file. If you see an extra copy, pick one up for me!

  5. Yes, it’s in the paper edition of the book. I might be able to get you a copy of Husayn’s book, though probably not of Al-Zarqawi’s notebook, as you’ll understand. I’ll see what I can do.

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