01/22/2006 03:04 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Found! Al-Zawahiri's Poetry Notebooks


The world learned today that Al-Zawahiri writes poetry, but it's old news at the CIA. They've known ever since a set of spiral notebooks was found on a park bench in Kandahar last year. You know the kind: black and white speckles on the front, with a white box in the middle that says "My Notes." The notebooks were gaily festooned with stickers of circus animals and Peanuts characters. The name "Ayman" was written on the front. For "Subject," the terrorist leader had written simply "My poetic truth."

One entry read:

Roses are red,
violets are blue,
sugar is sweet,
and when we get hold of fissionable material
we are going to make you vile unbelievers
squeal for mercy like pigs.

A notation had been made in the margin: "Too sentimental? Look underneath, Ayman."

Poems in the next notebook showed the evolution of Al-Zawahiri's style:

Oh, my love,
if we had but worlds enough and time,
not to mention a laboratory capable
of manufacturing anthrax spores
that could be dispersed in heavily populated urban areas ...

The piece is left tantalizingly unfinished.

As the New Yorker has already reported, Ayman used to send poetry to his mother. The notebooks confirm that he wrote some of these poems himself:


"M" is for the Many ways
you loved me day and night.
"O" is for your Open arms
that used to hug me tight.
"T" is for the Tears you'd shed
when I'd scrape my little knees.
And "H" is for Helping to slaughter
the American aggressors and their
thieving Zionist lackeys ...

The notebooks also contained commentaries. "Be more real," one read. "Poetry is life," declared another, "so live it." A later entry, entitled "Notes to Myself," said:

"As fearless as you are when entering a shopping mall to shoot M-16 rounds at civilians, be at least that fearless in entering the heart."

"Fire truth-seeking missiles of poesie at the Apache helicopter of self-deception."

"I want to write people's poetry," notes an entry entitled "My Aspirations." It continues: "I don't want to be a 'critic's darling,' I want to be a poet that all can appreciate - like Rod McKuen. Death to the elitist dogs with their blank verse and tortured souls. Write lines that beg to be embroidered onto pillows!"

Al-Zawahiri is not the first scoundrel to enter the poetry game. Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic likes to versify too, as demonstrated by this previously unpublished effort:

A rose is a rose is a rose
but after you raze a village
there's no there there.

Al-Zawahiri ... Karadzic ... Scooter Libby ... what is it with these guys and their poetry? And if it sucks, who's gonna tell them?

It could be worse, though. They could be folk singers.

A Night Light


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