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Bin Laden aide vows to continue U.S. fight

Al-Jazeera airs videotape from Ayman al-Zawahiri

Ayman al-Zawahiri
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A new videotaped message surfaces from Ayman al-Zawahiri.
People in the News:  Ayman al-Zawahiri

Ayman al-Zawahiri
  • Nationality: Egyptian

  • Position: Osama bin Laden's closest adviser

  • Status: Wanted, $25 million reward

  • Background: Medical doctor; founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad; referred to as the "brains of al Qaeda"
    Osama Bin Laden

    (CNN) -- In a videotape that aired Monday, Osama bin Laden's right-hand man pledged to continue fighting the United States until it changes its policies regarding Muslims.

    Ayman al-Zawahiri, in tape broadcast by the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera television network, said there are two ways to deal with Muslims -- "either with respect, or as if our lives and property are available for you to invade."

    He said he was offering advice that he expected American people to ignore.

    The tape's contents suggested al-Zawahiri recorded the message before the November 2 election in which President Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry.

    "You can elect Bush, Kerry or Satan himself, it doesn't matter to us," he said. "What's important to us is the U.S. policies toward Muslims."

    Al-Zawahiri said the United States was "playing the game of elections" along with Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Both U.S. candidates, he said, were fighting over "the acceptance of Israel. This proves there is no reasoning with America, but to force them to accept our position by force."

    CIA officials were analyzing the tape to assess its authenticity, a spokesman said.

    Al-Jazeera broadcast only parts of the tape but provided a summary of the other segments.

    According to that synopsis, al-Zawahiri castigated Egypt for its human rights record and Saudi Arabia for providing staging areas for foreign planes to launch attacks against Muslims.

    In addition, al-Zawahiri criticized Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for his acceptance of Israel as demonstrated in a September speech to the U.N. General Assembly.

    He likewise rebuked Musharraf for helping foreigners kill Muslims and for continuing in the role of army chief.

    Musharraf had agreed to vacate that post by December 31 as part of a deal worked out last year between the government and opposition officials.

    But the country's information minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, said in September that Musharraf, who came to power in a 1999 bloodless coup, planned to remain army chief. Ahmed said Pakistan's circumstances demanded Musharraf remain in both posts.

    The tape was aired days after the Pakistani government said it would end military operations in South Waziristan province near the Afghan border, where bin Laden and his top lieutenants are believed to be hiding. (Full story)

    Lt. Gen. Safdar Hussain, military chief of northwest Pakistan, said last week that repeated searches of the area had failed to turn up any trace of bin Laden.

    Intelligence sources said the government reached a deal with the region's five most wanted militants, who agreed to stop their resistance and not harbor any foreign militants.

    The agreement required the government to take action, including announcing clemency for the five wanted militants, paying compensation for property damage and releasing all prisoners.

    "We are a nation of patience," al-Zawahiri said. "And we will resist to fight you, God willing, until the last minute."

    In the previously most recent al-Zawahiri videotape, which aired September 9, he said mujahedeen fighters in Iraq "turned America's plan upside down" and added, "The defeat of America in Iraq and Afghanistan has become just a matter of time, with God's help." (Full story)

    Al-Zawahiri is under indictment in the United States on charges of conspiracy in the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. He is also one of the FBI's most-wanted suspected terrorists.

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