WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The so-called "suicide notes" found by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the suitcase of one of the Sept. 11 terrorists appear to have been written by someone other than those who carried out the attacks, according to several Islamic scholars and officials.
"I don't think that this was written by the hijackers, this was written for the hijackers," said Richard C. Martin, professor of Islamic studies and history of religion, at Emory University in Atlanta, GA., to United Press International.
"My sense is this was not some crackpot, this was someone who knew a great deal about Islam. A scholar/spiritual adviser to the hijackers."
Jamal Berzanji, Vice President of the International Institute of Islamic Though in Herndon, Va., agrees: "My feeling is that the one who authored that letter is not one of the hijackers, but is probably free roaming around somewhere."
"At least three or four passages from scriptures from the Koran that are cited have references to the sayings, or "hadith" of the prophet. There are references to the battle of Badr, a battle in which the Muslim forces were overwhelmed by their opponents and yet were able to win," said Martin.
"This was not the work of someone like Mohammad Atta. This letter was written by someone with a deep knowledge of Islam, someone who is well educated and learned in this field," Khaled Saffuri, President of the Islamic Institute in Washington, told UPI.
Atta was believed to have piloted the hijacked American Airlines flight 11 (Boston to Los Angeles) that crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. His luggage missed the flight and was retrieved by the FBI.
In the five-page hand-written letter, written in Arabic and released last week by the FBI, there were numerous references that only someone who has studied the Koran could have known, said Saffuri, who read the letters in their original text.
Saffuri and others believe that the letter was the work of someone with in-depth knowledge of the Koran and Islamic studies -- a profile that does not match the hijackers, who were mostly young and not highly educated. Atta was 33.
Berzanji, however, says the letters appear to be authored by someone with great knowledge but without formal education of Islamic teachings.
"They included several Suras (verses) relating to jihad," Saffuri said, explaining that the author of those letters was highly literate in the Koran -- the Muslim holy book, which followers of Islam believe to be the word of God given to the prophet Mohammad.
"They were very selective in writing about jihad," said Fathi Osman, a former professor of Islamic Law and Islamic Civilization at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles and currently Resident Scholar at the Institute for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World.
"The Koran contains more than 6,000 verses, of which there are about 200 referring to jihad, which means struggle, not holy war. They are not all commands, or orders, or laws. Most of them are reports on battles attended by the prophet. It is the same as when you read in the Bible about Joshua or David, or Solomon and the fights they went through.
These verses were picked out of context, explains Osman. "Because there are many verses that state clearly and explicitly that it is better to gain your enemies as friends rather than to fight them.
There are also contradictory statements in the letter. For example, one passage says, "The time of fun and waste has gone. The time of judgment has arrived. Hence we need to utilize those few hours to ask God for forgiveness." True fundamentalist believers would not have time for "fun," said another scholar.
FBI reports on the movement of the hijackers in the days leading up to Sept. 11 shows them visiting bars and drinking alcohol, something banned in Islam, and certainly not something devout or fundamentalists would normally engage in.
More contradictions are found in the usage of modern words such as "optimistic" and "100 percent," words not associated with ancient writings of the Koran.