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Iraq Transition

Al Qaeda No. 2 mourns al-Zarqawi

In a video released Friday, Ayman al-Zawahiri talks about the death of al Qaeda's leader in Iraq.



(CNN) -- Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, says in a videotape aired Friday that he grieves over the death of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The video was aired on the Arabic-language station Al-Jazeera. CNN could not independently confirm the authenticity of the tape.

In the tape, al-Zawahiri is wearing a black turban, a sign of mourning, and he speaks from in front of a red backdrop featuring a picture of a smiling al-Zarqawi.

Al-Zarqawi, whom al-Zawahiri calls a scholar, a hero and a martyr on the tape, was killed on June 7 in Baquba, Iraq, in a U.S. airstrike.

Al-Zarqawi had conducted a campaign of insurgency bombings, beheadings and killings of Americans and Iraqis.

"May God rest his soul and allow him to reside in his vast heavens, and make his martyrdom a light for the allies of God and fire and destruction for the enemies of God, the crusaders and their treacherous agents and the charlatans who deal in religion," al-Zawahiri says. "There isn't a single person who'll be killed that we won't get vengeance for, God willing." (Watch an analysis of the tape -- 3:10)

"Dream on as much as you like about security," he adds.

Experts quickly said the video was propaganda and that al-Zawahiri is not in a position to do anything other than "rally the troops," said Octavia Nasr, CNN's senior editor for Arab affairs.

Al-Zawahiri had harsh words for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, whom he says are "the two people who wanted to be the first to announce the news [of al-Zarqawi's death] to the world."

"I sensed that this announcement summed up most of the features of the struggle of Islam against the crusaders in Iraq," al-Zawahiri says. "Zalmay Khalilzad is an apostate Afghani who abandoned his father and migrated to America to throw himself at the feet of the fundamentalist Zionists."

"On the other hand, you have Nuri al-Maliki, who is trading Islam for power and a post," al-Zawahiri says. "He dealt with the crusader occupiers before and after the invasion, abandoning the law of the sharia (Muslim law) and opposing the resistance against the occupation, and he even worked on fighting the Mujahedeen under the crusader banner of Bush."

'Tell me why Muslims hate you'

Al-Zawahiri also compares the loss of the al Qaeda in Iraq leader to losses Americans have experienced in the war in Iraq.

"Tell me how your drunkard and runaway soldiers get killed; tell me how many of you were killed in reality and how much did your economy really lose and how the morale of your soldiers is down. And not only that, but tell me why Muslims hate you so much, and also why you are hated so much by your innocent victims all over the world," he says.

"Bush is lying to you when he tells you that you will win when you kill Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar and the members of al Qaeda and Taliban. He is hiding a lot behind his lies. He is hiding the true catastrophe that you are facing," al-Zawahiri says. "You are not facing individuals or organizations. But in reality you are facing the Islamic nation, whose soul is now inhabited by the spirit of jihad."

It was al-Zawahiri's second videotaped message this week. On a message posted Wednesday night on Islamic web sites, he addresses his message to the people of Afghanistan and talks about what he calls "crimes against the Afghan people by the Americans."

He claims to have recorded the earlier message May 30, the day after deadly riots in Kabul. He does not mention al-Zarqawi in that video.

Al-Zawahiri, too, has been the target of a U.S. airstrike. In January the CIA targeted a building in Damadola, Pakistan. The attack killed 17 people, including four al Qaeda operatives, but al-Zawahiri was not there.

The al Qaeda leader later released a videotape that was aired on the Arabic-language station Al-Jazeera. In it he taunted the United States and President Bush.

"I will meet my death when God wishes," he said. "Bush, do you know where I am? I am among the Muslim masses, enjoying their care with God's blessings and sharing with them their holy war against you until we defeat you."

Al-Zawahiri's wife and children were killed in December 2001 during a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan.

An Egyptian-born doctor from a prominent family, al-Zawahiri is al Qaeda's second in command and is thought to be bin Laden's personal physician.

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