Friday, September 29, 2006

Zawahri calls Bush a failure over war on terrorism

Zawahri calls Bush a failure over war on terrorism
By Firouz Sedarat

DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri called President Bush a lying failure for talking of progress in the war on terrorism, according to a video posted on the Internet on Friday.

In the 18-minute tape posted by al Qaeda's media arm al-Sahab, the Egyptian militant leader referred to the arrest of al Qaeda figures such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

"Bush, you are a lying failure and a charlatan. It has been three and-a-half years (since the arrests)...What happened to us? We have gained more strength and we are more insistent on martyrdom," he declared.

"Bush, O failure and liar, why don't you be courageous for once and confront your people and tell them the truth about your losses in Iraq and Afghanistan?" said Zawahri, wearing a black turban and sitting in front of a banner with Islam's statement of faith: "There is no god but Allah, Mohammad is his prophet."

A U.S. intelligence official in Washington dismissed the video as a "typical al Qaeda propaganda stream" but said analysts were scrutinising its contents for clues that might aid U.S. efforts to track down the militant leader.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spokeswoman Michele Neff said: "After conducting a technical analysis of the videotape, the CIA can confirm with confidence that the voice on the tape is that of Ayman al-Zawahri."

In a second portion of the tape, apparently shot at a different location, Zawahri labeled Pope Benedict a "charlatan" because of his remarks on Islam.

"This charlatan accused Islam of being incompatible with rationality while forgetting that his own Christianity is unacceptable to a sensible mind," Zawahri said, this time wearing a white turban.

He also compared the Pope to the 11th century Pope Urban II who backed the first crusade.

In a speech to a university in his native Germany on September 12, Pope Benedict quoted criticism of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad by 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who wrote that Mohammad commanded that Islam be spread by the sword.


Zawahri urged Muslims to launch a holy war against proposed U.N. peacekeepers in Sudan's Darfur region.

"O Muslim nation, come to defend your lands from crusaders masked as United Nations (troops). Nothing will protect you except popular jihad (holy war)," Zawahri said on the video, that showed the date of the Muslim lunar month that ended about a week ago.

The European Commission said on Friday its President Jose Manuel Barroso and a top EU aid official would go to Sudan this weekend to try to persuade Khartoum to allow U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur.

The Sudanese government has repeatedly rebuffed a United Nations offer to send 22,000 peacekeepers to replace an ill-equipped and under-funded African Union force.

Zawahri's last video was issued on the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on U.S. cities by al Qaeda.

Zawahri and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden are believed to be hiding in tribal borders areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

(Additional reporting by Diala Saadeh in Dubai and Washington bureau)