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Al-Qaida No. 2 calls Bush a 'failure' in first video since airstrike in Pakistan
CAIRO, Egypt -- In a new video aired Monday, al-Qaida's No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri mocked President Bush as a "failure" in the war on terror, called him a "butcher" for killing innocent Pakistanis in a miscarried airstrike and chastised the United States for rejecting Osama bin Laden's offer of a truce.
Al-Zawahri, wearing white robes and a white turban and speaking in a forceful and angry voice, also threatened a new attack in the United States -- "God willing, on your own land."
The video, broadcast on Al-Jazeera TV a day before Bush delivers his State of the Union address, provided the first concrete evidence that al-Zawahri was still alive after the Jan. 13 airstrike in eastern Pakistan that targeted him but killed four other al-Qaida leaders and 13 villagers.
The message came on the heels of a Jan. 19 audiotape by bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader's first tape in more than a year. Bin Laden said his followers were preparing an attack in the United States and offered the Americans a conditional truce, though he did not spell out terms.
Intelligence officials were analyzing the al-Zawawhri video.
The counterterrorism official noted the video was disseminated quickly, showing al-Zawahri's ability to get his message out even faster than bin Laden. That suggests the two are not hiding together, the official said.
"The al-Qaida leadership is clearly on the run and under a lot of pressure," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said in response to the video.
U.S. officials had said after the bin Laden tape that no intelligence indicated an imminent al-Qaida attack. On Monday, FBI special agent Richard Kolko said the bureau would ask agents around the country to review ongoing cases and tips in light of the latest video, especially with the State of the Union in Washington and the Super Bowl in Detroit this week.
Al-Zawahri said in the video that he had a number of messages in the wake of the airstrike.
In one message, he invited Bush to convert to Islam. "If you accept, you will become a brother in our faith and God will forgive you your sins," the Al-Jazeera news-reader quoted him as saying. The invitation was not in the excerpts aired by the Arab satellite station.
He said the airstrike in Pakistan by an unmanned Predator craft targeted himself and four of his "brothers" in al-Qaida. Instead, he said, it killed 18 civilians -- "men, women, and children" -- and he called Bush "the butcher of Washington."
"Bush, you are not only defeated and a liar, but, with God's help and might, a failure. You are a curse on your own nation and you have brought and will bring them only catastrophes and tragedies," he said.
"Bush, do you know where I am? I am among the Muslim masses, enjoying God's blessing of their support, care, generosity and protection," al-Zawahri said.
He said he had a message "to the American people, who are drowning in illusions. I tell you that Bush and his gang are shedding your blood and wasting your money in failed adventures."
"The lion of Islam, Sheik Osama bin Laden, may God protect him, offered you a decent exit from your dilemma. But your leaders, who are keen to accumulate wealth, insist on throwing you into battle and killing your souls in Iraq and Afghanistan and -- God willing -- on your own land," he said.
The airstrike hit a building in the eastern Pakistan village of Damadola, where U.S. intelligence believed al-Zawahri had been attending an Islamic holiday dinner. U.S. and Pakistani officials said the strike killed four al-Qaida leaders including a man believed to be al-Zawahri's son-in-law. Intelligence officials said later they believe al-Zawahri sent his aides in his place to the dinner.
The deaths of the villagers in the strike sparked widespread anger in Pakistan.
Al-Zawahri warned Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to stop cooperation with the United States, saying "your time of judgment is approaching."
No automatic weapons were visible in the video Monday, unlike past videos by the al-Qaida deputy in which a gun often appeared next to him. In the bottom left corner, the video had the logo in Arabic and English of Al-Sahab, an al-Qaida video production company that made some past videos by bin Laden and al-Zawahri.
Al-Jazeera aired two short excerpts from the video. It was not immediately known how long the entire tape was.
During the year of silence from bin Laden, al-Zawahri issued several video and audiotapes, including one claiming al-Qaida's responsibility for the July 7 London bombings. The last video from al-Zawahri came on Jan. 6, when he called the U.S. decision to withdraw some troops from Iraq a victory for the Islamic world.
Mark Ensalaco, an international terrorism expert at the University of Dayton, Ohio, said the tape's release may have been timed for Bush's State of Union address. "Al-Qaida is very conscious of such things," he said.
"Having bin Laden and al-Zawahri appear in quick succession in these tapes underscores the fact that they're alive and well and still plotting attacks," he said.
Associated Press reporters Katherine Shrader and Mark Sherman in Washington contributed to this report.