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BAGHDAD, Iraq - 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.
"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."