Al-Qaida’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, called for Muslim unity and said American elections that gave Democrats control of Congress would not change U.S. policy in Iraq, in a new audiotape released Tuesday by a U.S. group that tracks extremist messages.
The Washington-based SITE Institute released a transcript of the audio, which it said it had intercepted from Islamic militant Web sites where his messages are usually posted.
The Associated Press could not immediately find the audiotape independently, but found messages on a number of them that said an al-Zawahri tape was expected to be aired shortly.
IntelCenter, a U.S. group that monitors terrorism communications, said it also obtained the audio and that it was accompanied by a video that showed a still picture of al-Zawahri.
SITE said the multimedia arm of al-Qaida, as-Sahab, claimed to have produced the 41-minute audiotape.
On the tape, al-Zawahri said recent congressional elections in the United States that elected a majority of Democrats would change nothing.
“The people chose you due to your opposition to Bush’s policy in Iraq, but it appears that you are marching with him to the same abyss,” al-Zawahri told the Democrats according to the transcript.
Al-Zawahri slams Abbas
He repeated an earlier condemnation of the Palestinian Fatah movement led by Mahmoud Abbas for seeking to establish a secular state.
“I’m not asking them to join Hamas, the Islamic Jihad or al-Qaida, but rather, I’m asking them to return to Islam, in order to fight for the establishment of an Islamic state over all of Palestine and not for the establishment of a secularist state which will please America,” al-Zawahri said.
It was the fourth message by Osama bin Laden’s deputy since the beginning of the year. The last was on Jan. 22, when he mocked President Bush’s plan to send an additional 21,000 troops to Iraq.
Al-Zawahri called what he described as Bush’ failure in Iraq and the growing Taliban resistance in Afghanistan the “most important events” of the past year. He also said that “the people cooperating with the United States in Afghanistan and in Iraq would be abandoned by the Americans once they fail, the same way they did in Vietnam.”
The al-Qaida leader also threatened that countries allied to the United states in the region “must reap their bitter harvest,” and specifically named Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
He called on all Muslims to strive for unity, “even if they are Afghans, Persians, Turks or Kurds.”