Al-Zawahri: Taliban controls much of Afghanistan

Al-Qaida's deputy leader said in an audiotape aired Saturday that Taliban's fighters control large areas in Afghanistan and are fighting American forces and the U.S-backed Afghan government. It was not clear when the tape purportedly by al-Qaida number 2 Ayman al-Zawahri was recorded. Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television, which aired about 30 seconds of the tape, said al-Zawahri did not refer to any new events in the speech. The tape's authenticity could not be independently confirmed, but the voice resembled that of al-Zawahri's confirmed in past recordings. Al-Zawahri said the Taliban movement is controlling large sectors of east and south Afghanistan and are"waging a guerrilla war against the crusaders and their cronies." The last tape by al-Zawahri emerged on December 11, though it was believed to have been recorded in mid-September. In it, the Egyptian-born militant urged all Muslims to take up arms to fight against "the Cross and Zionism" and warned that the Islamic world had "no hope for victory" until all Muslims signed on to the al-Qaida-led jihad.