Al Qaeda to West: It's about policies
In a broadcast Thursday, Al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri blamed Tony Blair for the 7/7 attacks.
With an AK-47 at his side, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's No. 2, appeared in a videotape broadcast Thursday and claimed that the 7/7 bombings were payback for British participation in America's "policy of aggression against Muslims."Skip to next paragraph
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The video is another Al Qaeda message apparently intended to turn Western democracies against their leaders by explaining acts of terrorism as rational decisions from a group with specific political goals. It challenges the position of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Bush administration officials, who have insisted that the London attacks have nothing to do with Iraq and that terror attacks will continue regardless of policy.
"By linking the bombings to Iraq, he basically sent the message that no matter what Blair says, Iraq is the reason," says Bob Ayers, a counterterrorism expert at Chatham House, a think tank in London. "He's calling Blair a liar."
This latest tape was released on a day when an unprecedented police security operation was under way in London.
While Mr. Zawahiri didn't directly take credit for the London attacks, he promised more attacks on Britain, the US, and other allies, saying "tens of thousands" more American troops will be killed in Iraq if there isn't an immediate withdrawal.
It was one of three taped statements, all aired on Al Jazeera, that Zawahiri has made since the end of February, a pattern of rising communication from the Al Qaeda leaders that appears to belie statements from Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that Osama bin Laden and his aides are on the run.
Zawahiri, an Egyptian exile whose terrorist career began at home and who hates the Egyptian regime of Hosni Mubarak, did not mention the terrorist attack on Egypt's resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on July 23. The omission, analysts speculate, suggests the tape was made before the Sharm attacks, and the second subway attacks in London.
While some of his audio and video tapes seem generally targeted at mobilizing Al Qaeda's "base," filled with Islamic illusions and glorification of martyrs designed to reassure adherents and draw new members, this communication from Al Qaeda's chief ideologue falls into a category of tapes that targets primarily a Western audience.
Rather than casting his jihad as an inevitable clash of civilizations, he frames acts of terrorism as justified by the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and offers to end attacks on the West if a full withdrawal is made from "Muslim lands."
"Blair has brought to you destruction in central London, and he will bring you more destruction, God willing,'' Zawahiri said, addressing the British people.
"As for you Americans, what you have seen in New York and Washington, what losses you see in Afghanistan and Iraq, despite the media blackout, are merely the losses of the initial clashes," he said. "If you go on with the same policy of aggression against Muslims, you will see, God willing, things that will make you forget the horrors of Vietnam and Afghanistan."
"To the people of the crusader coalition ... our blessed Sheikh Osama has offered you a truce so that you leave Muslim land. As he said you will not dream of security until we live it as a reality in Palestine,'' he said. "Our message to you is clear, strong and final: There will be no salvation until you withdraw from our land, stop stealing our oil and resources and end support for infidel [Arab] rulers."