Osama bin Laden's top deputy urged Palestinians to turn against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his secular Fatah party, in an audio message posted on the Internet on yesterday.
The recording, whose authenticity could not be independently confirmed, but which was posted on Web sites used by al-Qaeda and other insurgent groups in Iraq, congratulated Muslims on the start of the Id al-Adha feast of sacrifice. In it Ayman al-Zawahiri also implicitly criticized the Palestinian ruling Islamic movement Hamas for taking part in the political process.
"The Palestine-selling secularist traitors cannot possibly be your brothers, so neither confer on them legitimacy... nor participate with them in their Shariah-rejecting assemblies, nor sign with them the documents which throw away Palestine," said the al-Qaeda second-in-command.
"How is it possible for Mahmoud Abbas to be a brother of ours?" Zawahiri questioned, accusing him of complicity with the Israelis and Americans.
On Dec. 20 Zawahiri slammed Hamas for recognizing Abbas and running in elections last January. Hamas scored a shock victory over Fatah and took power in March, but its government has since been boycotted by Israel and the West.
Zawahiri has often criticized the Islamist Hamas movement for taking part in elections, saying it would eventually lead to the recognition of Israel. Palestinian officials have rejected what they see as his interference in their affairs.
In yesterday's audio message, which does not specifically mention Hamas, Zawahiri said that victory in Iraq and Afghanistan was "not achieved by parliamentary elections ... Rather, it was achieved with blood, martyrdom-seeking."
"I send congratulations to the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, the mujahid Sheikh Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, and all the brave jihadi groups ... invite them to unite," Zawahiri said.
Baghdadi heads the so-called Islamic state announced by al-Qaeda and several other Sunni militant groups in Iraq in October. A number of insurgent groups have not joined it.