Tue, Feb 22, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Al-Jazeera releases purported video of bin Laden's deputy

MORE THREATS On the tape, top al-Qaeda figure al-Zawahri criticizes the US for its hypocrisy, and warns of the destruction of the American economy


Al-Jazeera television aired a videotape Sunday purporting to show al-Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri denouncing US calls for reform in the region and urging the West to respect the Islamic world.

Al-Zawahri, who appeared sitting on the ground and in front of a brown backdrop, pointed to the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, saying it "explains the truth about reforms and democracy that America alleges it wants to impose in our countries."

Al-Zawahri was wearing a clean and well-pressed white and brown robe and traditional headdress in the tape. A Kalashnikov assault rifle was leaning behind him against the backdrop.

The videotape is the latest in a string of threats against the US and its allies from al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's deputy in the al-Qaeda terrorist network. It was unclear if this videotape was the same or different from a message posted on the Internet that criticized the "rigged elections" in Iraq shortly after the Jan. 30 vote in the country. That message was said to be a transcript from an audiotape.

"Reform is based on American detention camps like Bagram, Kandahar, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib," said al-Zawahri in the videotape. "It will be based on cluster bombs and imposition of people like Karzai and Allawi," he said, referring to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

Al-Jazeera reported the excerpt was part of a longer videotape, but the station did not indicate the length of the entire tape. Officials at the Qatar-based network declined to say if they would broadcast the entire tape.

"Real security is based on mutual cooperation with the Islamic nation on the basis of mutual respect and the stopping of aggression," al-Zawahri said.

He warned that "the new crusade is doomed to fail" and said it would result in "tens of thousands of fallen victims and the destruction of your economy."

"If you, the Western nations, think that these cardboard governments can protect you, you are wrong," he said, referring to governments in the Middle East that he has criticized for supporting the US and not imposing Islamic fundamentalist laws.

"Your real security is through cooperation with the Islamic Nation," he added.

Like bin Laden, the Egyptian al-Zawahri is believed to be on the run in the mountains along the Afghan-Pakistani border. But Pakistani officials have said there is no evidence either man is in their territory and both Pakistani and US generals agree the trail has gone cold, more than three years after the Sept. 11 attacks.

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