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Top bin Laden aide reportedly urges further attacks

No violence in Egypt, says alleged al-Zawahiri e-mail

Ayman al-Zawahiri has been indicted in connection with the U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa.

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CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) -- An e-mail purportedly from Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, calls for continued attacks against Americans and urges Muslim militants not to carry out attacks within Egypt.

The communication was received Monday by Montaser Al Zayat, a lawyer for Islamic Jihad and other Islamic groups in Egypt. Al Zayat said he sent an e-mail message four months ago through an Internet site, asking al-Zawahiri to discuss the attacks of September 11, 2001.

"Sir, please don't ask about that which ends with the promise of heaven. Don't stop new Muslims from taking up arms in jihad against America and killing them like they kill us," the message attributed to al-Zawahiri said.

"Let it be understood that operations carried out by Muslims will come with a price. Regardless of what that price is, they will continue."

The writer referred to the attacks as "the blessed battle" that exposed "America's true face" and said the number of youths who have joined the Muslim religion since the attacks has greatly increased.

"Their numbers have increased by a degree that you can't even imagine in such a short period," the message says.

There was no way to independently authenticate the message, which began with "Peace be upon you." It ended by saying "all attacks in Egypt" should stop. "We must not change the inside so to protect us from the outside," it concluded.

U.S. intelligence officials said they could not confirm the authenticity of the message but are investigating it. The officials said they believe al-Zawahiri is alive, though his whereabouts are unknown.

Al-Zawahiri, a 51-year-old Egyptian national, is believed to be bin Laden's doctor and a primary al Qaeda strategist. He founded Egyptian Islamic Jihad, which merged with al Qaeda during the late 1990s.

Al Zayat told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. (LBC) he believed that with the United States preparing for possible war with Iraq, the al Qaeda leader "wanted to express his opinion on the subject."

He added, "America is not giving him a chance to commit any actions against the United States. And, therefore, he felt the need to communicate."

Word of the message came three months to the day since al-Zawahiri's last public communication. In an audiotaped message October 6, bin Laden's No. 2 man threatened fresh attacks against the United States, its economy and its allies.

Less than a week later, simultaneous bombings of nightclubs on the Indonesian resort island of Bali killed nearly 200 people, most of them Australians. The attack was blamed on a group with ties to al Qaeda.

Al-Zawahiri is on the FBI's "Most Wanted Terrorists" list, with a reward up to $25 million being offered for information leading to his capture and conviction. He has been indicted in connection with the bombing in 1998 of two U.S. Embassies in Africa that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded more than 4,000 others.

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