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Zawahri: Bin Laden still leading holy war
Updated: 2005-12-07 15:43

Al Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri has urged mujahideen to attack oil sites in Muslim states and said Osama bin Laden's battle against the West was only just beginning.

"I bring a message of joy to all Muslims and mujahideen that al Qaeda, thanks to God, is spreading and expanding and strengthening. Zawahri said in a video posted on a Web site frequently used by militants.

"Its prince Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may God protect him, is still leading its jihad (holy war)," Zawahri said.

The first apparent confirmation in a year from a top al Qaeda official that bin Laden was still alive was followed later in the lengthy interview by a call to target oil installations.

Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden talks at a news conference in Afghanistan in this May 26, 1998 file photo.
Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden talks at a news conference in Afghanistan in this May 26, 1998 file photo.[Reuters]
"I call on mujahideen to concentrate their attacks on Muslims' stolen oil, most of the revenues of which go to the enemies of Islam while most of what they leave is seized by the thieves who rule our countries," he said.

The tape appeared to have been filmed sometime during or after last September as Zawahri referred to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's re-election in that month, as well as Afghanistan's September 18 legislative elections.

The video showed Zawahri speaking against a white background to an interviewer off-camera who said the interview was to mark the fourth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities -- carried out by al Qaeda.

Zawahri said Britons had only their government to blame for al Qaeda's suicide bombings in London earlier this year because it had failed to accept a truce offered by bin Laden in exchange for leaving "Islam's homes."

"So let them taste the price of their government's foolishness. Whoever attacks us, we cut off his hand ... so let them pay the price of this offensive, they should be patient because the battle is only just beginning."


Bin Laden and his second-in-command, Zawahri, are believed to be hiding in the border regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan and have eluded capture since the 2001 attacks.

Zawahri rallied Muslims to support al Qaeda, saying the new "crusader" campaign by Washington and its Western allies was failing as evident by U.S. losses in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A frame grab shows Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri talking in an internet video released December 7, 2005.[Reuters]
"I call on Muslims everywhere to support their mujahideen brothers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine with money, men and prayer ... especially (Muslims) in the countries surrounding these battlefields."

"America and its crusader allies have not achieved anything. Its forces in the battleground are receiving blows each day."

He discredited Iraq's January elections, saying only half the population turned out to vote, and blasted what he called a weak government that was swept into power.

"The (Iraqi) government is begging Americans not to leave because they know the day Americans leave is the day they are finished."

Four years after the U.S. war on Afghanistan, only the Taliban exercised real power in the country, chaos reigned in its capital Kabul, and legislative elections held in September were fraudulent as they were monitored by a biased United Nations, he said.

"If it wasn't for the Pakistani army's continuous support to Americans, they would have left (Afghanistan) a long time ago and they will leave soon, God willing."

Last December Al Jazeera television aired an audio tape in which Bin Laden urged Muslims to wage holy war against U.S. forces and the government in Iraq.

Zawahri's last appearance was in October, when he urged Muslims in a video broadcast by Al Jazeera to help Pakistan's earthquake victims even though its government was an "agent" of the United States.

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