BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A blueprint for trying to start a war between the United States and Iran was among a "huge treasure" of documents found in the hideout of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraqi officials said Thursday.
The document, purporting to reflect al-Qaida policy and its cooperation with groups loyal to ousted President Saddam Hussein, also appear to show that the insurgency in Iraq was weakening.
The al-Qaida in Iraq document was translated and released by Iraqi National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie. There was no way to independently confirm the authenticity of the information attributed to al-Qaida.
Although the office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the document was found in al-Zarqawi's hideout following a June 7 airstrike that killed him, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said the document had in fact been found in a previous raid as part of an ongoing three-week operation to track al-Zarqawi.
"We can verify that this information did come off some kind of computer asset that was at a safe location," he said. "This was prior to the al-Zarqawi safe house."
The document also said al-Zarqawi planned to try to destroy the relationship between the United States and its Shiite allies in Iraq.
While the coalition was continuing to suffer human losses, "time is now beginning to be of service to the American forces and harmful to the resistance," the document said.
The document said the insurgency was being hurt by, among other things, the U.S. military's program to train Iraqi security forces, by massive arrests and seizures of weapons, by tightening the militants' financial outlets, and by creating divisions within its ranks.
"Generally speaking and despite the gloomy present situation, we find that the best solution in order to get out of this crisis is to involve the U.S. forces in waging a war against another country or any hostile groups," the document said, as quoted by al-Maliki's office.
According to the summary, insurgents were being weakened by operations against them and by their failure to attract recruits. To give new impetus to the insurgency, they would have to change tactics, it added.
"We mean specifically attempting to escalate the tension between America and Iran, and American and the Shiite in Iraq," it quoted the documents as saying, especially among moderate followers of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq.
"Creating disputes between America and them could hinder the U.S. cooperation with them, and subsequently weaken this kind of alliance between Shiites and the Americans," it said, adding that "the best solution is to get America involved in a war against another country and this would bring benefits."
They included "opening a new front" for the U.S. military and releasing some of the "pressure exerted on the resistance."
It pointed to clashes in 2004 between U.S. forces and followers of radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army militia as evidence of the benefits of such a strategy. Al-Sadr and his growing followers are among the fiercest advocates of a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
It said the "results obtained during the struggle between U.S. army and al-Mahdi army is an example of the benefits to be gained by such struggle."
Al-Maliki's office said the document provides "the broad guidelines of the program of the Saddamists and the takfiris inside al-Zarqawi's group."
"Takfiri" is a reference to an extremist ideology that urges Muslims to kill anyone they consider an infidel, even fellow Muslims. It is the ideology that many Iraqis, especially in the Shiite community, use to describe al-Zarqawi and his followers.
The language contained in the document was different from the vocabulary used by al-Qaida statements posted on the Web. For example, it does not refer to the Americans as "Crusaders" nor use the term "rejectionists" to allude to Shiites.
Much of what is in the statement from al-Rubaie echoes results that the U.S. military and the Iraqi government say they are seeking. It also appears to reinforce American and Iraqi arguments that al-Qaida in Iraq and its operatives are a group of imported extremists bent on killing innocent civilians.
Al-Qaida in Iraq has been blamed for thousands of deaths, hundreds of bombings, kidnappings and assassinations in the past three years. Al-Qaida in Iraq's own hatred of the Shiites is well-documented and al-Zarqawi has repeatedly called on Sunnis to rise up and kill them.