AL-QAIDA'S NO. 2 LEADER THREATENS ATTACKS
By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer July 27, 2006
CAIRO, Egypt - Al-Qaida's
No. 2 leader called Thursday for Muslims to unite in a holy war against Israel and to join the fighting in Lebanon and Gaza until Islam reigns from "Spain to Iraq."
Ayman al-Zawahri's taped
message, the first from al-Qaida since Israel began offensives against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon and Hamas militants
in the Gaza Strip, was a sweeping recruiting effort
that even called on non-Muslims to join the Islamic cause.
Addressing the world's "downtrodden,"
al-Zawahri said non-Muslims should join Islamic militants in the battle against "tyrannical Western civilization and its leader,
"Stand with Muslims in confronting
this unprecedented oppression and tyranny. Stand with us as we stand with you against this injustice that was forbidden by
God in his book (the Quran)," al-Zawahri said.
Kamal Habib, a former member
of Egypt's Islamic Jihad militant group
who was jailed from 1981-1991 along with al-Zawahri, said the appeal to non-Muslims was unprecedented and reflected a change
"This is a transformation
in the vision of al-Qaida and its struggle with the United States.
It is now trying to unite Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and calling for non-Muslims to join the fight," he said.
But the Egyptian-born militant
saved most of his vitriol for Israel.
"The war with Israel does not depend on cease-fires ... . It is a jihad
(holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain
to Iraq," said al-Zawahri. "We will attack
The White House dismissed
the tape as propaganda aimed at inciting violence.
"It is hardly new for Mr.
al-Zawahri, from his place in hiding, to issue threats," White House spokesman Tony Snow said. "One of the weapons is to use
the media, and use the Internet and use mass communications as a way of fomenting hatred and encouraging violence, and this
certainly fits into that pattern."
"Al-Qaida's military's capabilities
have been significantly degraded and everybody knows that, and so now Ayman al-Zawahri is issuing tapes," Snow added.
Al-Zawahri said al-Qaida
planned to attack opponents wherever vulnerable.
"All the world is a battlefield
open in front of us," he said in portions of the tape broadcast by Al-Jazeera television. "Like they attack us everywhere,
we will attack them everywhere."
Speaking from what appeared
to be a television studio, Osama bin Laden's deputy
reissued threats against the United States, specifically for its backing
"The shells and missiles
that are ripping apart Muslims' bodies in Gaza and Lebanon are not purely Israeli, but are supplied by all the countries of the crusader
coalition," he said. "We cannot just watch these shells as they burn our brothers in Gaza and
Lebanon and stand by idly, humiliated."
Bob Ayers, a security analyst
at London's Chatham House think tank, said the message was
a reminder of al-Qaida's role as a reference point for radical Muslims. "The real message that they're sending to all of us
is that they're still there, they're still effective," he said.
Al-Zawahri spoke while seated
in front of photographs of Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, and Mohammed Atef, also known as Abu Hafs
al-Masri, a former bin Laden lieutenant who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan in 2001. Their photos flanked a picture of the World
Trade Center in flames.
Some observers speculated
al-Zawahri's use of that backdrop was a coded message to al-Qaida followers.
But Evan Kohlman, founder
of the U.S.-based al-Qaida tracking organization globalterroralert.com, said the photos were chosen because of the dead militants'
hatred of Israel and support for the Palestinian
He also discounted speculation
that al-Zawahri's call for Islamic unity meant he was holding out a hand to radical Shiites, the backbone of Hezbollah.
"Any idea that this is pro-Hezbollah
is wrong," Kohlman said. "This is anti-Israel. That's what this is about. With this tape, al-Zawahri seems to be suggesting
that the jihad to liberate Palestine is a natural outgrowth of the jihad in Iraq," he said.
Hezbollah spokesman Hussein
Rahhal refused to comment on the al-Zawahri tape.
While backing the fight
against Israel, al-Zawahri said every Muslim has a duty "to rise up and
seek martyrdom and attack and inflict harm on crusaders" in the battle against U.S.-led forces in Iraq
He accused Arab countries
of turning a blind eye to the Israeli offensive against Hezbollah and the Palestinians.
"My fellow Muslims, it is
obvious that Arab and Islamic governments are not only impotent but also complicit ... and you are alone on the battlefield.
Rely on God and fight your enemies ... make yourselves martyrs," he said.
Al-Jazeera did not transmit
the entire tape, using selected quotes interspersed with commentary from an anchor. The satellite network said the full tape
was about eight minutes long and it aired about half of it. Al-Jazeera would not comment on how it received the tape.
The message was al-Zawahri's
tenth this year. Bin Laden, al-Qaida's founder, has issued five messages this year.
Al-Zawahri last appeared
in a video posted on an Islamic Web site on the anniversary of the London