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Al Qaeda's No. 2 opposes Palestinian elections

Story Highlights

• Al-Jazeera airs new message from al Qaeda's No. 2
Al-Zawahiri says Palestinian elections will lead to defeat
Says U.S. will face retaliation for military actions in Muslim lands
Says U.S. not negotiating with "real power" in Islamic world regarding Iraq
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DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri released a new videotaped statement Wednesday in which he sided with Hamas' opposition to early Palestinian elections.

Al-Zawahiri also warned that al Qaeda will retaliate against the United States for its military actions in Muslim lands.

"The formula for your safety is, you shall never dream of security until we live it as a reality in Palestine and all the lands of Islam," he said.

"And it is not a ... formula, the one which Bush says, 'We hit the terrorists in their land so they don't strike in our land.' On the contrary, if we are hit in our lands, then we will not stop striking in your land, God willing.

"As our commander Osama bin Laden said, as you bomb you will be bombed and as you kill you will be killed."

Al-Zawahiri also warned the United States, "You are not negotiating with the real power in the Islamic world ... those whom you are negotiating with to secure your departure from Iraq, they will not be useful to you."

It was not clear which countries he was referring to.

The statement initially aired on the Arabic language network Al-Jazeera and was confirmed by CNN Arabic experts.

Al-Zawahiri warned Palestinian leaders that "holding elections won't lead to Palestine's liberation."

"Those who try to liberate Muslim land through elections ... will not liberate one grain of sand of Palestine," al-Zawahiri said. "Their efforts will only result in creating a reversion to jihad and will negatively affect the [current] struggle of mujahedeen," al-Zawahiri said.

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi -- a member of the Fatah party, which supports new elections -- said al-Zawahiri should "stay out of it."

"Nobody asked him [for] his opinion," Ashrawi told CNN.

"Palestinians -- including Hamas, including the Islamist parties -- do not claim any affiliation with or allegiance to al-Zawahiri and his ilk. Al Qaeda does not have anything do with Palestine, and we would thank them very much to stay out of it and not to exploit the Palestinian question and not to try to interfere," Ashrawi said.

Al-Zawahiri also had some words for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, calling the Fatah party leader "America's man in Palestine." And he obliquely criticized Hamas leaders, asking: "Why didn't they ask for an Islamic constitution for Palestine?"

Abbas and his Fatah party are locked in a power struggle with the ruling party, Hamas.

Al-Zawahiri's statement comes shortly after Abbas' most recent call for new elections -- in which he hopes to replace Hamas with his more moderate Fatah.

The banners on the new al-Zawahiri video carry the name "As-Sahab," the same company that has produced previous al Qaeda tapes.

The message was to be titled "the truth about the conflict between Muslims and infidels," according to the advertisements.

Additionally, multiple radical Islamist Web sites had recently advertised that a "new message" from al-Zawahiri would be released "soon."

The last video of al-Zawahiri aired September 29. In the video he accused President Bush of being a "deceitful charlatan" who lied to the American people about the situation in Iraq.

CNN's Amir Ahmed, Octavia Nasr, Caroline Faraj and Raja Razek contributed to this report

Ayman al-Zawahiri appears in a videotape aired in January 2006.




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