IMAGE: AL-QAIDA DEPUTY LEADER IN VIDEO
AP
Ayman al-Zawahiri speaks in a video released Friday that included captioning in English.
updated 9/30/2006 7:38:22 AM ET 2006-09-30T11:38:22

Osama bin Laden’s deputy described President Bush as a “deceitful liar” in a new video statement and called a U.N. resolution to send peacekeepers into Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region a “Crusader plan,” imploring the Muslims of Darfur to defend themselves.

“Can’t you be honest at least once in your life, and admit that you are a deceitful liar who intentionally deceived your nation when you drove them to war in Iraq?” al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri said.

Al-Zawahri also criticized Bush for continuing to imprison al-Qaida leaders including one-time al-Qaida No. 3 Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged Sept. 11 mastermind who was captured in Pakistan in March 2003.

“Bush, you deceitful charlatan, 3½ years have passed since your capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, so how have you found us during this time? Losing and surrendering? Or are we launching attacks with God’s help and becoming martyrs?” he said.

“What you have perpetrated against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other Muslim captives in your prisons and the prisons of your slaves in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan and elsewhere is not hidden from anyone,” he said. “We are a people who do not sleep under oppression and who do not abandon our revenge.”

After conducting a technical analysis of the videotape, the CIA concluded “with confidence” that the speaker is in fact Ayman al-Zawahri, said a CIA official who was not authorized to discuss the tape on the record and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The nearly 18-minute statement, titled “Bush, the Pope, Darfur and the Crusades,” was produced by al-Qaida’s media arm, as-Sahab, and made available by the Virginia-based IntelCenter, which monitors terrorism communications.

Al-Qaida has released a string of videos to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, showing increasingly sophisticated production techniques in a likely effort to demonstrate that it remains a powerful force despite the U.S.-led effort against the group.

Al-Zawahri criticizes Darfur plan, pope
Al-Zawahri criticized the U.N. resolution to send peacekeepers into Darfur, where at least 200,000 people have died and some 2 million have been displaced since the start of a 2003 revolt by rebels from the region’s ethnic African population.

“There is a Crusader plan to send Crusader forces to Darfur that is about to become a new field of the Crusades war,” he said.

Al-Zawahri compared Pope Benedict XVI to Pope Urban II, who in 1095 ordered the First Crusade to establish Christian control in the Holy Land.

The remarks about Benedict were an apparent response to the pontiff’s comments this month that sparked outrage across the Muslim world. Benedict cited a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as “evil and inhuman,” particularly “his command to spread by the sword the faith.”

“If Benedict attacked us, we will respond to his insults with good things. We will call upon him and all of the Christians to become Muslims who do not recognize the Trinity or the crucifixion,” al-Zawahri said.

The IntelCenter said Friday’s video was the 48th released by the al-Qaida Web site this year, three times more than last year’s number — which had been the highest. It said al-Zawahri has appeared in 14 of the 2006 videos.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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