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Rumsfeld Unsure of Authenticity of Purported al-Qaida Document Seized in Iraq

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he does not know if a document seized in Iraq purporting to prove al-Qaida involvement in the ongoing violence is genuine.

Coalition officials in Baghdad appear to have no doubts that the document is authentic and that it shows al-Qaida and its supporters are working inside Iraq.

But speaking to reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he is not sure.

"I don't know if it's authentic," he said. "People who've read it think it is, but I haven't read it."

General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says he has seen a translation of the document, allegedly written by a terrorist linked to al-Qaida named Abu Musab Zarqawi.

He says the question of its legitimacy is still undergoing study. "Authenticity is still being evaluated," he said.

But he says if it is genuine, then it demonstrates al-Qaida links to the ongoing insurgency.

"But the al-Qaida is clearly involved if that letter is authentic," he said.

Asked if defense officials in Washington, by raising questions about the document's authenticity, were backing away from the more confident pronouncements made earlier in Baghdad, General Myers says that is not the case.

"No, I'm just trying to tell you what I know," he said.

The document was found in mid-January on a computer disk in the possession of an Iraqi courier involved in the insurgency. U.S. officials in Baghdad say its focus is on provoking sectarian warfare in an effort to tear apart the country. It is believed the document was to have been taken to Afghanistan for delivery to top al-Qaida leaders.