Brown: Britain has right to knight Salman Rushdie

Britain had the right to award a knighthood to Salman Rushdie, the prime minister said Wednesday, following the release of an al-Qaida audiotape threatening retribution. Al-Qaida's No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri issued the Web statement Tuesday warning of violence, US-based SITE intelligence monitoring group said. "Nothing can justify either threats to the United Kingdom or any form of terrorist activity and it must be the right of the United Kingdom to make its own decisions on all these issues," Prime Minister Gordon Brown told reporters. Al-Zawahri directly addressed Brown in the tape, SITE said, saying British strategy in the Middle East "has brought tragedy and defeat upon you, not only in Afghanistan and Iraq but also in the center of London." This appeared to be a reference to the deadly London transit network bombings in 2005. "And if you did not understand, listen, we are ready to repeat it for you," al-Zawahri was quoted as warning Brown.