Al-Qaida's N.2 calls for Muslims to unite in jihad

Ayman al-Zawahri urges support for Iraqi insurgents, cites "blessings" in "combat against Jews and Christians."

Al Zawahiri 88 (photo credit: )
Al Zawahiri 88
(photo credit: )
Al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, has issued a new video tape calling on Muslims to unite in jihad, or holy war, and support the Islamist movement in Iraq, a US-based intelligence monitoring group said Wednesday. Al-Zawahri is seen in the one-hour-and-35-minute tape dressed in white and addressing a wide array of topics from Iraq to Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian territories and Egypt, said the US-based SITE intelligence group, which monitors al-Qaida messages. The group said it had obtained the tape ahead of its release on the Internet, and issued a transcript of al-Zawahri's speech. The authenticity of the transcript could not be independently verified. Al-Qaida's deputy chief called on all Muslims to join the holy war against the West. "May Allah pluck out your eye if you haven't yet seen that jihad is an individual duty," the transcript quoted al-Zawahri as saying. It was not possible to verify from the tape's transcript whether it was recorded before last week's attempted bombings in Britain, and al-Zawahri did not allude to them. "I would like to talk to my brothers about the huge blessings which we witnessed after every step toward unity," in "the combat against Jews and Christians," al-Zawahri was quoted as saying. He also encouraged Iraqis and Muslims in general to show greater support to the Islamic State of Iraq, an al-Qaida insurgent front in the country, despite detractors saying it lacks "necessary qualifications," the SITE group quoted al-Zawahri as saying. Al-Qaida's deputy leader did not name these detractors, but implicitly acknowledged some problems. "The first thing which our beloved brothers in Iraq must realize is the critical nature of unity," al-Zawahri was quoted as saying. He also called on Kurds from northern Iraq to join forces with insurgents. It was not clear what problems al-Zawahri was alluding to, but a number of major Sunni Arab tribes have turned against the Islamic State in recent months and have cooperated with US forces in the Iraqi provinces of Anbar and Diyala. Later, al-Zawahri further alluded to the insurgents' possible shortcomings in governing the zones they control in Iraq and to interior tensions among insurgents. "The mujahideen [insurgents] are not innocent of deficiency, error and slips, because they are humans who are sometimes right and sometimes wrong, as humans are," al-Zawahri was quoted as saying. "The mujahideen must solve their problems among themselves," he said, calling on the insurgents not to make public their internal disputes. The lengthy tape then included video exerts such as footage from Thomas Kean, the Chair of the September 11 Commission, stating that al-Qaida was one of the biggest security threats ever faced by the US. In what appeared a similar attempt to convince Muslim viewers of al-Qaida's might, the tape then inserted quotes from an Arab newspaper commentator stating he believed the terrorist group remained as strong as before, the transcript said. Bin Laden's deputy also lashed out at Egypt and Saudi Arabia for supporting the United States in the Middle East, the transcript said. The tape played television footage from US and other TV channels quoting various officials and journalists discussing corruption in Saudi Arabia. In a lengthy development apparently addressed at Iraqis, he warned against the rise of Saudi influence in Iraq. "If the agents of the Saudi state were to take control of government in Iraq ... the Iraqis would then suffer the same repression and humiliation which the people suffer under Saudi rule under the pretext of combating terrorism," al-Zawahri warned. He warned against the Saudis backing the "Zionist Crusade led by America" in the Middle East. Al-Zawahri concluded by calling on followers not to "despair" or "worry" about their fight, but to "be encouraged and optimistic," the transcript said. The IntelCenter, another US-based intelligence group that monitors such messages, said al-Zawahri's new video,was being released by as-Sahab, al-Qaida's media wing. Entitled "The Advice of One Concerned," it was the eighth video featuring a statement from al-Zawahri this year and the 59th video released by as-Sahab in 2007, IntelCenter said. As-Sahab released a total of 58 videos in 2006. Al-Qaida's media wing is operating at its highest production level ever and is averaging a video release every three days, IntelCenter said.