U.S. officials say they have obtained a letter sent from Osama bin Laden's top deputy to the leader of Iraq's insurgency, outlining a goal of forming an Islamic state in Iraq.
A Defense Department spokesman said Thursday, a lengthy letter from Ayman al-Zawahri details a strategy of pushing the United States out of Iraq, then setting up an Islamic state and expanding into neighboring countries.
The letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi also concedes that al-Qaida has lost many key leaders, and is resigned to defeat in Afghanistan.
The Pentagon spokesman says the letter makes a plea for financial support, admitting that funding has been severely disrupted.
Al-Qaida's deputy leader warns Iraqi insurgents not to alienate the Islamic world by such tactics as beheading hostages and carrying out suicide bombings that kill Muslim civilians.
The spokesman did not say how or when U.S. officials obtained the letter.