CAIRO, Egypt — Al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, threatened more destruction in London, saying in a videotape broadcast Thursday that British Prime Minister Tony Blair would be to blame.
Al-Zawahri also threatened the United States with tens of thousands of military dead if it does not withdraw its troops from Iraq immediately.
In Crawford, Texas, President Bush dismissed the threat, saying, "We will stay on the offense against these people. They're terrorists and they're killers and they will kill innocent people ... so they can impose their dark vision on the world."
The tape, aired on the pan-Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera, was delivered nearly a month after the July 7 bombings in London that killed 56 people, including four suicide attackers. In the excerpts aired by Al-Jazeera, al-Zawahri did not directly claim that al-Qaida carried out the July 7 or July 21 attacks.
Warnings of strikes around the world
But he brought the July 7 attacks under al-Qaida's wing and depicted the terror network as still capable of delivering strikes around the world despite arrests in Europe and blows against its leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He presented the attacks as a result of Blair's decision to deploy troops in Iraq.
"Blair has brought to you destruction in central London, and he will bring more of that, God willing," al-Zawahri said in the broadcast excerpts.
In London, Blair's Downing Street office declined to comment on the broadcast.
Al-Zawahri, an Egyptian doctor who merged his militant faction with that of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, spoke with a Kalashnikov rifle propped up behind his right shoulder against a plain background.
He has been in hiding since the United States invaded Afghanistan in late 2001. It was at least the sixth videotape or audiotape released by al-Zawahri since the Sept. 11 attacks blamed on al-Qaida.
In June, Al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape of al-Zawahri disparaging the U.S. concept of reform in the Middle East and saying armed jihad was the only way to bring change in the Arab world.
The Saudi-born bin Laden last appeared in a video in October.
Videotape left for pan-Arab media station
The latest videotape showed al-Zawahri positioned in front of a woven cloth that moved with the wind and showed the sunlight, indicating it appeared to be made outdoors. He was wearing a white robe and a black turban and emphatically wagged his finger at the camera while speaking.
Taahir Hoorzook, of the media relations department in Al-Jazeera, said Al-Jazeera received the tape Thursday. "It was left at one of our offices and we got it from there," he said, refusing to say which office received it. The network aired about 10 percent of the five-minute tape, he said.
The parts that weren't broadcast were "the usual rhetoric, speaking about the occupation of Islamic lands and other things that we did not find newsworthy," he said.
A direct message to the U.S.
In the excerpts, al-Zawahri warned the United States it could expect significantly more casualties from its military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"As for you, the Americans, what you have seen in New York and Washington, what losses that you see in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the media blackout, is merely the losses of the initial clashes," he said.
"If you go on with the same policy of aggression against Muslims, you will see, with God's will, what will make you forget the horrible things in Vietnam and Afghanistan."
He said the Bush administration was repeating the "same lies they said in Vietnam ... that they are bringing freedom."
"There is no way out of Iraq without immediate withdrawal, and any delay on this means only more dead, more losses," he said.
"If you don't leave today, certainly you will leave tomorrow, and after tens of thousands of dead, and double that figure in disabled and wounded."
Al-Zawahri: ‘You will not be safe until you withdraw’
He suggested there would be more attacks against other Western countries who have contributed troops to the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq. He said those nations had ignored a three-month "truce" that bin Laden offered European nations in April 2004 to give them time to withdraw their troops from Iraq.
"Hasn't Sheik Osama bin Laden told you that you will not dream of security before there is security in Palestine and before all the infidel armies withdraw from the land of Muhammad?" al-Zawahri said.
"Instead (of accepting the truce), you spilled blood like rivers in our countries and we exploded the volcanoes of wrath in your countries."
He did not name any countries apart from Britain, but he appeared to be referring to the terror attacks in Madrid, Spain, last year that were linked to al-Qaida. Those train bombings killed 191 people.
"Our message is clear: you will not be safe until you withdraw from our land, stop stealing our oil and wealth and stop supporting the corrupt rulers," al-Zawahri said.
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