Al Qaeda's media wing Al Sahab released a video featuring a lengthy interview with al Qaeda's number two Ayman al Zawahiri. A steady sound of bypassing cars is heard in the background throughout the one hour and 24-minute tape, indicating that the filming took place at a location overlooking a street or a highway.
(Al Sahab )
Al Zawahiri discusses a wide range of topics from the Gaza siege to the credit crunch, but mostly repeats the usual rhetoric found in his previous statements. The tape is entitled "Al Azhar...The Lion's Den" and is the fifth in a series of interviews that al Sahab has conducted with al Zawahiri since January 2005.
The video was released in two versions, with one accompanied with English subtitles. It was most likely recorded around September or October as al Zawahiri congratulated Muslims on Ramadan and the Muslim feast.
Al Zawahri Challenges President Bush
In response to the first question, al Zawahiri claimed the U.S. was trying to make people falsely believe that it was winning the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I tell Bush, the dogs of Afghanistan have yet to eat their fill of the flesh of the Americans. And I challenge you if you're a real man, to send the entire American army to Pakistan and the tribal regions, for it to end up with God's help in hell."
Contesting Karzai's Legitimacy
In references to efforts by the Afghani President Hamid Karzai to start talks with the Taliban under Saudi mediation, al Zawahiri contests the legitimacy of the Karzai government, describing it as a groupof old U.S. intelligence agents put together by the CIA. He also slams what he termed "the historical role of saboteur played by the House of Saud in ruining the causes of the Muslim nation."
Egypt and The Gaza Siege
Al Zawahiri said the siege of Gaza wouldn't be lifted except through the use of force and argued that this responsibility falls directly on Egyptians. "If the Egyptians were to rise up using their tongues, pens and hands, they would be able to demolish the blockade." Al Zawahiri called on Egyptians to stage general strikes in order to pressure the government to lift the blockade. He gave special attention to Egyptian students and urged them to form their own legitimate "unions" in order to free themselves from government constraints and give themselves freedom of action.
Al Zawahri Criticizes Al Azhar
Al Zawahiri strongly criticized al Azhar, the largest center for Sunni Muslim learning that is located in Cairo, and said that its most senior clerics are only working for the benefit of their masters in the Egyptian government. He said al Azhar scholars had a role to play in fighting the "Zionist-Crusader" alliance and called on them to incite the whole nation to carry a general strike to contest the blockade imposed on Gaza.
Al Zawahri Claims U.S. Defeated in Iraq
Al Zawahiri claimed that Bush's victory in Iraq declaration was just another of the many fibs told by the Americans such as claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the involvement of Saddam with al Qaeda, Bin Laden's kidney failure, and rumours of al Zawahiri's death. He argued there were two facts associated with the correct picture in Iraq. The first, he said, was that the U.S. has been defeated and the second, that they would be leaving Iraq to either the "resistance" groups or the Iranians. Al Zawahiri urged members of the awakening councils to repent and join the fight against the U.S. forces.
He Denies Reports About Attempts to Arrest Him
Al Zawahiri argued that the U.S. brought Pakistani Presisdent Zardari to power in exchange for more Pakistani support of the U.S. "war on Islam" in Pakistan and Afghanistan. When asked about reports of recent attempts to arrest him in Mohmand agency, al Zawahiri again claimed that it was a story made up by the U.S. and Pakistani intelligence.
Al Zawahri: There's A Campaign Against the 'Mujahideen'
Al Zawahiri also claimed there was a media campaign aimed at turning Muslims away from "jihad." He backed his claim by referring to some of the publications published by West Point's CTC, and the Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World at the American Hudson Institute, and mocked some of the mistakes featured in those publications.
The Credit Crisis
Al Zawahiri analyzed the economic crisis in the U.S. and said it was a natural result of a capitalistic system based on usury and fraud.
Al Qaeda in Yemen
Al Zawahiri praised al Qaeda in Yemen and saluted its leader Nasser al Weheshy. He also said that Yemeni people "will write a bright page in the history of Islam" with their confrontation of President Abdullah Ali Saleh's regime and with their backing of the militants.