The excerpts below are from a confidential letter from the emir of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Abdelmalek Droukdel, to his fighters in Mali, that the AP found on the floor of a building they occupied in Timbuktu.
"This project, vital and very important to us and to our jihad, is in this very sensitive and dangerous phase, which requires us all to give it particular care and to prepare the ground for success..."
"It is very probable, perhaps certain, that a military intervention will occur, whether directly or indirectly, or that a complete economic, political and military blockade will be imposed along with multiple pressures, which in the end will either force us to retreat to our rear bases or will provoke the people against us because of starvation or the cutting of supplies and salaries...."
"We should also take into consideration not to monopolize the political and military stage. We should not be at the forefront."
"The aim of building these bridges is to make it so that our Mujahedeen are no longer isolated in society....And if we can achieve this positive thing in even a limited amount, then even if the project fails later, it will be just enough that we will have planted the first, good seed in this fertile soil and put pesticides and fertilizer on it, so that the tree will grow more quickly. We look forward to seeing this tree as it will be: Stable and magnificent."
"One of the wrong policies that we think you carried out is the extreme speed with which you applied Shariah, not taking into consideration the gradual evolution that should be applied in an environment that is ignorant of religion, and a people which hasn't applied Shariah in centuries. And our previous experience proved that applying Shariah this way, without taking the environment into consideration will lead to people rejecting the religion, and engender hatred toward the Mujahedeen, and will consequently lead to the failure of our experiment."
"It is very important that we view our Islamic project in Azawad as a small newborn, with many phases ahead of it that it must pass through to grow and mature. The current baby is in its first days, crawling on its knees, and has not yet stood on its two legs. So is it wise that we start now to lay burdens on it that will inevitably prevent it from standing on its own two feet and perhaps even smother it?!! If we really want it to stand on its own two feet in this world full of enemies waiting to pounce, we must ease its burden, take it by the hand, help it and support it until it stands."
"...and every mistake in this important stage of the life of the baby will be a heavy burden on his shoulder. The larger the mistake, the heavier the weight on his back and we could end up suffocating him suddenly and causing his death. And that would be a disaster that should not take us by surprise."
"The decision to go to war against the Azawad Liberation Movement, after becoming close and almost completing a deal with them, which we thought would be positive, is a major mistake, in our assessment, which we could have overcome and dealt with it in a circumscribed way instead of going into full-on war. And with all the reasons our brothers gave via their statements through the media (we have not until now received any clarification from you, despite how perilous the operation was !!) we can see that all these reasons are not good enough to declare a war on a very important wing of the society...."
"Better for you to be silent and pretend to be a 'domestic' movement that has its own causes and concerns. There is no call for you to show that we have an expansionary, jihadi, Qaida or any other sort of project.
The entire document can be seen at http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/_international/_pdfs/al-qaida-manifesto.pdf.