Lebanese minister: Al-Qaida threat to attack UN peacekeepers a "bad omen"

The call by Al-Qaida's deputy chief for Sunni militants in Lebanon to attack UN peacekeepers is a bad omen for the country and a dangerous threat to its future, a Lebanese Cabinet minister said Tuesday. Osama bin Laden's chief deputy Ayman al-Zawahri called on militants in an audiotape released earlier Tuesday "to expel the invading Crusaders who pretend to be peacekeeping forces in Lebanon and not to accept resolution 1701." Al-Zawahri was referring to the U.N. resolution that ended the war between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. A 13,500-strong UN force, known as UNIFIL, monitors the truce in southern Lebanon. "The road is long but they have to break the siege imposed on them and to shove their way to Palestine," al-Zawahri said, referring to militants in Lebanon. The authenticity of the audio could not be independently confirmed. But the voice sounded like past audiotapes from al-Zawahri, and the posting where it was found bore the logo of Al-Sahab, al-Qaida's official media arm.