Al-Qaida Warning Tape Said Authentic
Wed Oct 9,12:20 PM ET
By AUDREY WOODS, Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) - An audiotape of Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida's fugitive second in command, appears to be genuine and to have been recorded in the last few weeks, a U.S. official said Wednesday. In the tape, he threatens new attacks on the United States and its economy.

References to current events in the tape - obtained Tuesday by Associated Press Television News - are a clear sign that al-Zawahri is alive, the official said in Washington on condition of anonymity.

The voice recording would be the first proof that al-Zawahri survived U.S. bombing in Afghanistan (news - web sites) launched a year ago. U.S. officials say they don't know if al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) is alive, but in recent months U.S. troops have been scouring the remote border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The tape was probably made in the last few weeks but could have been made as early as August, the official said, adding that the tape was still being analyzed.

In the tape, al-Zawahri refers to a July 1 U.S. bombing in Afghanistan and speaks about the United States' campaign against Iraq, accusing Washington of seeking to subjugate the Arab world on behalf of Israel.

The recording was obtained by APTN in the form of a video compact disc. On the disc, an interview with al-Zawahri is played against a video backdrop with English subtitles of the conversation, along with scenes from the Sept. 11 attacks and other news footage.

A title in the video identifies the speaker as al-Zawahri and says the video is a production of the As-Sahaab Foundation for Islamic Media. The production company is credited with earlier al-Qaida statements that appeared on Web sites and with the so-called farewell video of Ahmed Ibrahim A. Alhaznawi, a Sept. 11 hijacker.

Al-Zawahri, 50, is believed to be bin Laden's doctor and spiritual adviser, providing the ideology that drove al-Qaida. He was the head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad until he forged an alliance with bin Laden in 1998.

Al-Zawahri is on the U.S. most wanted list and the government is offering a reward of up to $25 million for information leading to his capture. Egypt sentenced him to death in absentia in 1999 for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Pakistan and for attempting to kill officials in Egypt. He has been indicted in the United States for his alleged role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.

In the recording, al-Zawahri issues a warning to U.S. allies - "the deputies of America" - to get out of the Muslim world, specifying Germany and France.

"The mujahid youth has already sent messages to Germany and France," he said. "However, if these doses are not enough, we are prepared with the help of Allah, to inject further doses."

A May 8 attack on a bus in Pakistan killed 11 French engineers and an April 11 blast at a synagogue in Tunisia, a former French colony, killed 16 people, including 11 Germans. Both attacks have been linked to al-Qaida.

"As for America itself, it should expect to be treated the same way it has acted," al-Zawahri says, pointing to suffering of Muslims in Afghanistan and in the Palestinian territories.

"It will have to pay the price. ... The settlement of this overburdened account will then indeed be heavy. We will also aim to continue, by permission of Allah, the destruction of the American economy."

Al-Zawahri said the year-old U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan "has not achieved its goals. ... Neither America nor its allies have been able to harm the leadership of al-Qaida and Taliban, including Mullah Muhammad Omar and Sheik Osama bin Laden, may Allah protect them all. They are both in good health."

Asked what he saw as the motives for the United States campaign against Iraq, he said, "Its first aim is to destroy any effective military force in the proximity of Israel."

Its second aim, he said, is to consolidate the supremacy of Israel over Arab countries.

"America and its deputies should know that their crimes will not go unpunished," he said. "We advise them to make a hasty retreat from Palestine, the Arabian Gulf, Afghanistan and the rest of the Muslim states, before they lose everything."



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