I don't have time for a profound post, just a chance to point out a few things in relation to the quickly spreading news of Abu Walid al-Masri's dialogue with "the terrorist-fighter beauty,"* Leah Farrall.
Abu Walid al-Masri (al-Masri = Egyptian) is also known as Mustafa Hamid, and there are also indications he has used the alternative nom de guerre Hashim al-Makki in the past, to publish some articles critical of al-Qaida.
One of his sons-in-law, Saif al-Adel, is in al-Qaida currently if Asharq al-Awsat and others have it right.
Abu Walid used to have an Australian wife called Rabiah Hutchinson, with whom you can listen to an extensive, very informative interview out on You Tube, thanks to the Grand Trunk Road.
She thinks much of Osama bin Laden based on her personal experience with bin Laden who in her account built a lot in Afghanistan. Strangely, she praises bin Laden for "building" the Kabul-Kandahar road even.
An interesting hint (if true) comes in the third part of the interview, where we are told Rabiah divorced her husband after the ouster of the Taliban because he had converted to become Shi'a in Iran. It is also interesting to think of Asharq al-Awsat's claim that Abu Walid al-Masri was under house arrest of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. How he is now a regular contributor to al-Somood (the Taliban's paper, "The Resistance") is a part of the story which I don't understand for now.
* To make it clear, these are al-Masri's words. And he keeps getting back to using the word "beauty," which is a bit strange, isn't it? Is this awkward politeness from him? A rhetorical tool? Whatever the reason, I myself don't think Steve Coll is to blame for this. Though Coll did make a mistake saying people can have a go at Farrall's posts of al-Masri's letters in Arabic (even while that clearly only** implied reading those, and not stealing or re-posting them or posting pirate translations). But he did link to Farrall's blog, at least. Meanwhile, it should be clarified that it was Farrall who contacted Abu Walid, apparently, not the other way around, as it is factually incorrectly believed, for example by Coll.
Update: This comment at Leah Farrall's blog is interesting to read. And I do, genuinely, want to thank the commenter (the author of this other blog) for taking the time to write it!
** (Update.) Well, if Steve Coll now explicitly says (as part of a formal apology) that he assumed "collaborative responses" are what people could have given after Farrall had posted al-Masri's letters, I can't continue to assume he implied only that those letters could be read at Farrall's blog.