“Researchers and experts are indeed skeptical about the authenticity of statements released by Al-Tawheed wal Jihad let alone whether it really exists,” Diaa Rashwan, an Egyptian expert at Islamic movements, told IslamOnline.net.
He said the timing is very much connected to the freezing of the group’s alleged assets in the United States and Britain.
“It suits Bush’s global war on terror as a matter of fact,” he added.
It was the first such public pledge by the group which is led by Zarqawi, whom the United States has branded the chief operative in Iraq of Al-Qaeda.
“We announce that Al-Tawhid wal Jihad, its emir (Zarqawi) and soldiers have pledged allegiance to the mujahedeen (warriors) and Osama bin Laden,” the group said in a statement posted on a website and carried by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“Sheikh Abu Mussab Al-Zarqawi was in contact with the brothers within Al-Qaeda for eight months. They exchanged points of view and then there was a cut due to fate,” the statement read.
Rashwan said a closer look at the operation of Al-Qaeda and the Zarqawi group reveals a great difference and a divergent ideology between both groups.
“Osama Bin Laden, for instance, had never resorted to the grisly beheadings or kidnappings of Muslims on the contrary to Zarqawi,” the Egyptian expert said.
He said anomalies were “intentionally” ignored only to consolidate Bush’s anti-terror drive.
“The Western media further added fuel to the flames by parroting that Zarqawi was an ‘AL-Qaeda operative’.”
Rashwan further said the allegiance statement came to justify the fierce crackdown on Iraqi resistance groups by the US-backed government of Iyad Allawi under the terror slogan.
Muntasir Al-Zayat, an Egyptian lawyer of Islamic movements, believes that the Zarqawi statement, if authentic, is highly significant.
“It refutes US lies about Al-Qaeda-Saddam links, which formed along with the false premise of weapon of mass destruction the rationale for invading Iraq,” he told IOL.
Zarqawi, who like bin Laden has a 25-million-dollar US bounty on his head, has claimed responsibility for a string of deadly attacks in Iraq, including kidnapping and beheading of hostages.
The Iraqi premier has ordered residents of the town of Fallujah in western Iraq to surrender Zarqawi and his supporters or face invasion by US-led forces.
The Fallujah people, however, maintained that they did not harbor the wanted man.
Iraqi experts have told IOL the clans characters of machismo, bravery and religiosity are the driving force of the unabated resistance in Fallujah.
Retired General Robert Guard has also told CNN that the killing of innocent civilians, provocative practices, and harassment of Iraqi women also fanned anti-American sentiments in the town and forced its people to take up arms.