…from Saturday’s Times:
The most active terrorist network inside Iraq appears to be operating mostly apart from Al Qaeda, senior American officials say.
Most significantly, the officials said, American intelligence had picked up signs that Qaeda members outside Iraq had refused a request from the group, Ansar al-Islam, for help in attacking Shiite Muslims in Iraq.
The request was made by Ansar’s leader, a Jordanian, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and intercepted by the United States last month. The apparent refusal is being described by some American intelligence analysts as an indication of a significant divide between the groups.
Since before the American invasion, Bush administration officials have portrayed Al Qaeda and Ansar as close associates and used the links as part of their justification for war against Saddam Hussein’s government.