Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri said in a videotape aired Monday that President Bush was a “butcher” and a “failure” because of a deadly U.S. airstrike in Pakistan targeting the bin Laden deputy, and he threatened a new attack on the United States.
Al-Zawahri, shown in the video wearing white robes and a white turban, said a Jan. 13 airstrike in the eastern village of Damadola killed “innocents,” and he said the United States had ignored an offer from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden for a truce.
“Butcher of Washington, you are not only defeated and a liar, but also a failure. You are a curse on your own nation, and you have brought and will bring them only catastrophes and tragedies,” he said, referring to Bush.
“Bush do you know where I am? I am among the Muslim people enjoying what God has given me from their support and their care and their generosity and their protection, and their participating in jihad until we defeat you, by Allah's grace and help.”
Civilian deaths angered Pakistanis
The airstrike hit a building in Damadola, where U.S. intelligence believed al-Zawahri had been attending an Islamic holiday dinner. The strike killed four al-Qaida leaders — including a man believed to be al-Zawahri’s son-in-law — but intelligence officials said later they believe al-Zawahri sent his aides to the dinner in his place.
Thirteen villagers also were killed in the strike, angering many Pakistanis.
“The American planes raided in compliance with Musharraf the traitor and his security apparatus, the slave of the Crusaders and the Jews,” he said, referring to Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
“In seeking to kill my humble self and four of my brothers, the whole world has discovered the extent of America’s lies and failures and the extent of its savagery in fighting Islam and Muslims.”
Video is new
The video was al-Zawahri’s first appearance since the airstrike and came 11 days after the latest audiotape by bin Laden. IntelCenter, a contractor working with U.S. intelligence agencies, said the video of al-Zawahri is new.
The last video from al-Zawahri came Jan. 6, when he called the U.S. decision to withdraw some troops from Iraq a victory for the Islamic world.
The Al-Jazeera newscaster said Monday the network was airing excerpts, and it showed two short segments. It was not immediately known how long the entire tape was.
In the video, al-Zawahri spoke before a black background. No automatic weapon was visible, unlike past videos by the al-Qaida deputy in which a gun often appeared leaning 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.
“My second message is 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 frustrated adventures,” he said, speaking in a forceful and angry voice.
Rage at coalition
“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 in battles and killing your souls in Iraq and Afghanistan and — God willing — on your own land.”
Al-Zawahri then vented more fury at the United States and Britain, its main coalition partner in Iraq.
“Your leaders responded to the initiative of sheik Osama, may God protect him, by saying they don’t negotiate with terrorists and that they are winning the war on terror. I tell them: You liars, greedy war mongers, who is pulling out from Iraq and Afghanistan? Us or you? Whose soldiers are committing suicide because of despair? Us or you?” he said.
“You, American mother, if the Pentagon calls to tell you that your son is coming home in a coffin, then remember George Bush. And you, British wife, if the Defense Department calls you to say that your husband is returning crippled and burnt, remember Tony Blair.”
The video came in the wake of a Jan. 19 audiotape by bin Laden in which he warned that al-Qaida is preparing attacks in the United States but offered a truce “with fair conditions” to build Iraq and Afghanistan.
No conditions on truce
The al-Qaida leader did not spell out conditions for a truce in the excerpts aired by Al-Jazeera.
U.S. officials said after the bin Laden tape that they had no sign that al-Qaida was preparing an imminent attack in the United States.
In an Arabic transcription of the entire tape on the Al-Jazeera Web site — but not aired — bin Laden made an oblique reference to how to prevent new attacks on the United States but did not specify if those were conditions for a truce.
The tape was the first message from bin Laden in more than a year. The CIA authenticated the voice on the tape as that of bin Laden. Al-Jazeera said the tape was recorded in the Islamic month that corresponds with December.
The White House firmly rejected bin Laden’s suggestion of a negotiated truce. “We don’t negotiate with terrorists,” Vice President Dick Cheney said at the time. “I think you have to destroy them.”
During the year of silence from bin Laden, al-Zawahri issued several video and audiotapes, including one claiming al-Qaida responsibility for the July 7 London bombings.