Thursday, August 04, 2005

Zawahiri - new terror tape aired

Ayman Al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, resurfaced mid afternoon Thursday with a message to stir the hornets nest. In a video shown on Al Jazeera television he pointed the blame for London’s attacks firmly at the Prime Minister. “To the British, I am telling you that Blair brought you destruction in the middle of London…” He made a stark warning of “more to come”. Making further threats to the United State he added, “what you saw in New York and Washington and what you are seeing in Afghanistan and Iraq, all these are nothing compared to what you will see next.” He referred to Osama bin Laden and a statement he had made ordering the removal of foreign forces from “the Land of Mohammed”. Zawahiri also mentioned the Middle East crisis, saying that the US “would never dream of peace until we actually live it in Palestine”. With regard to Iraq he said, “If you don’t leave today, certainly you will leave tomorrow, and after tens of thousands of dead, and double that in disabled and wounded.”
George Bush spoke later about the tape saying that, “Part of their goal is to drive us out of the Middle East”, but, “We will stay on the offence against these people”. Labeling them as terrorists and killers he said, “We will stay the course, we will finish the job…We’re training Iraqis, and we will leave as soon as possible”. On what ‘soon as possible’ meant, he said, “As Iraq stands up, our coalition will stand down”. The War on Terror was “a clash of ideologies, freedom versus tyranny…” Prime Minister Tony Blair has so far refused to comment on the tape.
As strong as the rhetoric is, it is unclear what influence such a broadcast plays. Muslims around the world are debating greatly amongst themselves following the 7/7 attacks. Many Imams have indeed criticized the attacks but there are always the few who are stirred by such speeches. MP George Galloway also ruffled some feathers with a speech widely reported as praising suicide bombers as martyrs. Speaking on Syrian television he said, "These poor Iraqis - ragged people, with their sandals, with their Kalashnikovs, with the lightest and most basic of weapons - are writing the names of their cities and towns in the stars, with 145 military operations every day, which has made the country ungovernable…We don't know who they are, we don't know their names, we never saw their faces, they don't put up photographs of their martyrs, we don't know the names of their leaders." His comments have been condemned by many opposition MPs. [Full transcript of Zawahiri speech from the BBC]
[19:01 GMT 04/08/2005]

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