CAIRO, Egypt - A new video of al-Qaida's No. 2 leader released on Saturday mocks US President Bush and US legislation requiring the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, saying the bill would rob the group's fighters of the chance to kill more Americans.
This is an image from video made available by IntelCenter on Saturday, May 5, 2007 showing Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's deputy. [AP]
Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahri derided the new US-backed Baghdad security plan, recounting an April 12 suicide bombing in Baghdad's heavily protected Green Zone when an attacker slipped through security and killed a Sunni legislator in the Iraqi parliament's cafeteria. An al-Qaida-led amalgam of Sunni insurgents in Iraq claimed responsibility.
"And lest Bush worry, I congratulate him on the success of his security plan, and I invite him on the occasion for a glass of juice, but in the cafeteria of the Iraqi parliament in the middle of the Green Zone," al-Zawahri said.
The video was obtained Saturday by US-based monitoring groups who released a transcript to media.
Al-Zawahri, shown seated before a bookshelf in a white robe and turban, addresses legislation pushed by Democratic leaders, and vetoed by Bush, that would have required the first US troops in Iraq to be withdrawn by Oct. 1 with a goal of a complete pullout six months later.
"This bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap," al-Zawahri said, according to a transcript released by the monitoring group SITE. The bill is evidence of American "failure and frustration," he added.
"We ask Allah that they (US troops) only get out of it after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson," he said.
He made no mention of Bush vetoing the bill on Thursday - an indication the video may have been made beforehand.
Al-Zawahri encouraged minorities around the world to join the holy war, or jihad.
"Al-Qaida is not merely for the benefit of Muslims," he said. "That's why I want blacks in America, people of color, American Indians, Hispanics, and all the weak and oppressed in North and South America, in Africa and Asia, and all over the world."
Al-Zawahri claimed al-Qaida fighters in Iraq were "nearing closer to victory over their enemy, despite this sectarian fighting" that has convulsed the country.
He discussed other topics as well in the 67-minute video, including fighting in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Algeria, and Somalia. He made references to Saudi Arabia, Egyptian constitutional changes meant to cement the government's hold on power, and the Pentagon's release of the confessions of al-Qaida No. 3, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - the alleged Sept. 11 mastermind who was captured in Pakistan in March 2003.
Saturday's video was the fifth message - including posted video and audio tapes - by al-Zawahri this year. Osama bin Laden has not surfaced in any communications since mid-2006.