Message from al-Qaida No. 2 urges all Muslims to join jihad

Monday, December 12, 2005

CAIRO, Egypt -- In a tape that surfaced Sunday, Osama bin Laden's deputy urged all Muslims to take up arms, saying a refusal to join the fight against "the Cross and Zionism" was a "malignant illness" that would lead to the defeat of militant Islam.

Egyptian-born Ayman al-Zawahri said the global Islamic community had "no hope for victory" until all Muslims signed on to the al-Qaida-led jihad.

"As long as this malignant illness continues to survive within us, there is no hope for victory and there can only be more defeats, tragedies, disasters and betrayals," al-Zawahri said.

His comments were contained in a 48-minute tape titled "Impediments to Jihad." The video portion of the tape was a still photo of a white-turbaned al-Zawahri with English subtitles. The audio appeared to be his voice speaking Arabic.

The tape was believed to have been made at about the same time as a Sept. 19 video attributed to al-Zawahri, according to Ben Venzke, chief executive of Intelcenter, a U.S. government contractor that obtained the tape.

It was impossible to immediately verify the authenticity of the tape. IntelCenter declined to say how it obtained the recording, citing confidentiality agreements with the U.S. government.

But Venzke said it was produced by al-Sahab Media Production House, a purported al-Qaida media organization, and it expanded on al-Zawahri's Sept. 19 message, which gave increased prominence to the Taliban.

Al-Zawahri credits toppled Taliban leader Mullah Omar with leading a three-year campaign "against the Crusaders and apostates in Afghanistan" and purportedly taking control of "extensive parts of eastern and western Afghanistan."

Mullah Omar is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, where Taliban forces continue to launch regular attacks but do not control large swaths of territory.

U.S.-led forces toppled the hard-line Taliban regime in late 2001 when it refused to turn over bin Laden and stop providing a haven to the group blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks.

The latest tape also was a rallying call to Muslims to attack Western interests everywhere to help stave off the "defeat" of Islamic extremists.

Al-Zawahri specifically cited as examples of militant activities the Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip, insurgent warfare against U.S. troops in Iraq and the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The key to victory is in our hands, and in turn, the primary cause of defeat is in ourselves," it said.

Al-Zawahri also criticized the lack of support for al-Qaida-linked militants in Saudi Arabia, saying the mujahedeen had suffered "defeat" in Saudi authorities' high-profile campaign against militants.

"These idolatrous regimes achieve victory over us because each one of us wants to save his own skin and avoid harm for himself," al-Zawahri said on the tape.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of bin Laden, has suffered multiple bombings and attacks since 2003 and has since waged a fierce crackdown on militants.

Al-Zawahri and bin Laden are believed to be hiding in the mountains along the Pakistani-Afghanistan border. Pakistani troops are cooperating with the United States in the search for the pair.

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