Al Qaeda Plans To Strike Israel and Persian Gulf States
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CAIRO, Egypt — Osama bin Laden’s deputy warned that Persian Gulf countries and Israel would be Al Qaeda’s next targets, according to a new videotape aired by Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera yesterday, the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Ayman al-Zawahri also accused the governments of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia of supporting Israel’s war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Addressing the West, Al Qaeda’s no. 2 leader said, “You should not waste your time in reinforcing your troops in Iraq and Afghanistan because their fate is doomed. … Instead, you have to reinforce your troops in two regions. First is the Gulf, where you would be thrown out … and second is Israel.”
He also condemned the U.N. peacekeeping force now deploying in Lebanon under terms set out in a cease-fire resolution.
“What is so terrible in this resolution … is that it approves the existence of the Jewish state and isolates our mujahedeen in Palestine from Muslims in Lebanon,” he said in excerpts of the video aired on Al-Jazeera television.
“This is consecrated by the presence of international troops who are hostile to Islam,” he said. “Anyone who accepts this resolution means that he accepts all these catastrophes.”
In other portions of the tape aired by CNN earlier Monday, Mr. Zawahri urged Muslims to intensify their resistance against America and warned in general terms of new terror strikes.
The video was not on any of the militant Web sites that usually carry messages and videos from Mr. Zawahri and other Al Qaeda figures. The terror network’s press arm, As-Sahab, had posted notices late Sunday that the video would be available.
It was the latest in a flurry of Al Qaeda videos released ahead of the anniversary. But unlike the others, it appeared to be new, with references to Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon this summer and the capture of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah and Palestinian Arab militants in Gaza.
“You gave us every legitimacy and every opportunity to continue fighting you,” Mr. Zawahri, addressing America, said. “You should worry about your presence in the [Persian] Gulf, and the second place you should worry about is Israel.”
The video shows the Egyptian-born Mr. Zawahri dressed in white and seated in front of a wall of bookshelves.
“Your leaders are hiding from you the true extent of the disaster,” he said. “And the days are pregnant and giving birth to new events, with Allah’s permission and guidance.”
Mr. Zawahri criticized the West for supplying Israel with weapons, and he called on the Islamic world “to rush with everything at its disposal to the aid of its Muslim brothers in Lebanon and Gaza.”
Late Sunday, another video posted on the Internet, purportedly by Al Qaeda, showed previously unseen footage of a smiling Mr. bin Laden and other commanders in a mountain camp apparently planning the September 11 attacks.
That tape’s documentary-like retrospective of the five years since the attacks was unusually long — 91 minutes, split into two segments — and sophisticated in its production quality, compared with previous Al Qaeda videos. The footage — with English subtitles — surfaced on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the attacks, on a Web site that frequently airs messages from Mr. bin Laden’s terror network.
“Planning for September 11 did not take place behind computer monitors or radar screens, nor inside military command and control centers, but was surrounded with divine protection in an atmosphere brimming with brotherliness … and love for sacrificing life,” an unidentified narrator said.
The video released Sunday, stamped with the emblem of As-Sahab, Al Qaeda’s press branch, was titled “Knowledge Is for Acting Upon” and subtitled “The Manhattan Raid.”
It showed the Al Qaeda leader meeting with colleagues in a mountain camp believed to be in Afghanistan, as well as video clips of Vice President Cheney defending his old job at the oil company Halliburton and President Bush at his inauguration. Other scenes show training at the camp, with masked militants doing martial arts kicks and practicing hiding and pulling out knives.
It included the last testament of two of the September 11 hijackers, Wail al-Shehri and Hamza al-Ghamdi, and showed Mr. bin Laden strolling in the camp, greeting followers.
“Among the devout group which responded to the order of Allah and order of his messenger were the heroes of September 11, who wrote with the ink of their blood the greatest pages of modern history,” the narrator said, referring to the hijackers who flew planes into the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
Shehri and Ghamdi were each shown speaking to the camera, their image superimposed over background pictures of the crumbling World Trade Center towers and the burning Pentagon, as well as a model of a passenger jet.
They both spoke of how Muslims must stand up to fight back against the West.
“If we are content with being humiliated and inclined to comfort, the tooth of the enemy will stretch from Jerusalem to Mecca, and then everyone will regret on a day when regret is of no use,” Ghamdi said. The two videotaped final statements had never been seen before. Shehri was on American Flight 11, which was the first to hit the World Trade Center. Ghamdi was on United Flight 175, which hit the second tower.