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Purported al Qaeda tape says U.S. on the run

No mention made of Saddam Hussein's capture

Al-Zawahiri
Al-Zawahiri

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(CNN) -- In an audiotape aired Friday on Arab television, a voice purported to be that of al Qaeda's second in command -- Ayman al-Zawahiri -- declared that two years after a key battle in Afghanistan the terrorist network is chasing the United States and its allies everywhere, including their home countries.

The voice in the tape aired by the television network Al Jazeera also seemed to take responsibility for an attack on a hotel in Iraq where Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying.

"Two years after Tora Bora the American disintegration has become an unmistakable reality in Afghanistan. The forces of Jihad and Islam started chasing the crusaders and the liars out of sacred Afghanistan one region at a time," the voice said.

U.S. and allied Afghan forces fought against al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Tora Bora in December 2001. Captured al Qaeda fighters said afterward that the terrorist network's leader, Osama bin Laden, had been wounded in the battle and that he had ordered his lieutenants to disperse in all directions from the mountains of eastern Afghanistan.

The voice said the situation in Iraq is proof that U.S. forces are incapable of defending themselves, not even a high-ranking visitor like Wolfowitz, who was a guest at the Al Rashid Hotel in Baghdad when several rockets were fired at the building October 26. He was not hurt.

One U.S. soldier was killed in the attack and more than a dozen people were wounded.

The voice on the tape has not been authenticated as being that of al-Zawahiri, and it is not known when the tape was recorded.

It did not mention the capture last week of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, and made no reference to bin Laden.

It did, however, talk about insurgents in Baghdad, saying that they are not the remnants of Saddam's forces but Mujahedeen fighters battling for Islam.

The speaker promised that the power of Islam would continue until it chased Americans out of the Arabian Peninsula.

The speaker also claimed that 300 Mujahedeen fighters resisted American bombing in Afghanistan for 12 days during the war there and made it out alive, walking through the "white mountains" and crossing into Pakistan.

The last purported audiotape from al Qaeda was released on the same television network October 18, and included a speaker claiming to be bin Laden who threatened to launch suicide attacks against the United States and any other countries who help the U.S. effort in Iraq.


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