NBC News and news services
updated 1/22/2007 9:13:22 PM ET 2007-01-23T02:13:22

Al-Qaida's deputy leader mocked President Bush's plan to send 21,000 more troops to Iraq, challenging him to send "the entire army" and vowing insurgents will defeat them in a new videotape, a U.S. group that tracks al-Qaida messages said Monday.

The Washington-based SITE Institute said it had intercepted the video from Ayman al-Zawahri, which had not yet been posted on Islamic militant Web sites, where his messages are usually posted. SITE did not elaborate on how it received the message.

Al-Zawahri said the U.S. strategy for Iraq, outlined by Bush in a Jan. 9 speech, was doomed to fail.

"I ask him, why send 20,000 (troops) only — why not send 50 or 100 thousand? Aren't you aware that the dogs of Iraq are pining for your troops' dead bodies?" al-Zawahri said in an excerpt of the video released by SITE.

"So send your entire army to be annihilated at the hands of the mujahedeen (holy warriors) to free the world from your evil," he said, "because Iraq, land of the Caliphate and Jihad, is able to bury 10 armies like yours, with Allah's help and power."

The video showed al-Zawahri, wearing a white turban, in front of a black backdrop.

The message was the first reaction from al-Qaida's leadership to the new Iraq strategy. The U.S. has said the extra troops aim to crack down on al-Qaida fighters and other Sunni Arab insurgents in Iraq, as well as Shiite militiamen blamed in the country's spiraling sectarian violence.

Continuing his commentary on Bush's "ravings," al-Zawahri says that America has not deprived al-Qaida of safe haven in Afghanistan. Instead, he says, the Taliban under the command of Mullah Muhammad Omar has deprived Americans of any security in Afghanistan, as evidenced by the need to bring NATO to the forefront of the war.

He then turns to the American people, warning that if they continue to follow the policies of Bush and his administration, then peace between the secular West and the Muslim world is impossible. “If we are secure, you might be secure,” he says, “and if we are safe, you might be safe. And if we are struck and killed, you will definitely — with Allah's permission — be struck and killed."

The remainder of the speech serves to incite Muslims to jihad, using Bush's security plan and continuing actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now Somalia, as justification. Al-Zawahri argues that every Muslim today is responsible for the defense of Islam and the efforts to "liberate" Muslim captives, foremost being the "Blind Sheikh" Omar Abdel Rahman, who is in prison in the United States, convicted in 1995 for his role in a plot to blow up New York City landmarks.

Al-Zawahri also entreats "Arab nationalists and leftists" to return to Islam and refuse international law that has divided their land and the Muslim nation.

NBC's Jim Miklaszewski and the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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