Al Qaeda leaders release new videos
In a new propaganda push, bin Laden calls for war against Pakistan's president and Darfur peacekeepers.
Al Qaeda intensified its propaganda campaign Thursday by issuing its third video since the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. In a lengthy commentary, Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri urged Muslims to fight the United States and its allies, targeting the prospect of African Union and United Nations peacekeepers in Darfur. Later on Thursday, Al Qaeda released a new recording of Osama bin Laden declaring war on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan's Army.Skip to next paragraph
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The latest video is an 80-minute compilation of old audio clips from bin Laden and Western analysts, interspersed with narration by Al Qaeda leaders, such as Dr. Zawahiri and Mustafa al-Yazid, known as Sheikh Saeed, reports Reuters.
Zawahri gives what appears to be a new commentary, explaining how the United States was being defeated by Muslims around the world.
"What they claim is the strongest power in the history of mankind is today being defeated in front of the Muslim vanguard of jihad six years after New York and Washington," said Zawahri, who was wearing a white turban and speaking in front of a packed bookcase. An assault rifle leant against it.
Zawahiri also called on Muslims in Sudan to fight African Union and UN peacekeepers in war-torn Darfur, saying that Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir had abandoned his Muslim brothers and no longer deserved their protection. This is not the first time that Al Qaeda has called for a jihad against international peacekeepers in Darfur. Last year, Zawahiri made a similar call to arms. In July, the Sudan Tribune reported on the alleged links between Al Qaeda and the Sudanese government. Citing classified documents, the Tribune reported that the Sudanese government had "decided to lift restriction on Al Qaeda members in the country in return for their help in fighting peacekeepers in Darfur."
The document requests all government agencies to allow "foreign Jihadis who came to Sudan with Osama Bin Laden in 1994 to resume their political activities in Sudan given the circumstances surrounding foreign intervention in Darfur to support armed forces and the people of Sudan to fight Zionist enemies".
The decision outlines certain steps to be taken to allow Al-Qaeda to operate in Sudan such as unfreezing their bank accounts and returning all properties confiscated in 1996.
A copy of the order was sent to President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, Head of Security Services and a representative of Al-Qaeda in Sudan.
Bin Laden's presence in Sudan was enabled in the mid-1990s by Hassan al-Turabi, the country's leading Islamist, who was widely regarded at the time as the real (and unelected) power behind the presidency, said analyst Andrew McGregor recently in the Terrorism Monitor. "Times have changed in Sudan, however ... Most Sudanese do not admire the Wahhabist-style Islam espoused by al-Qaeda. Their Islam is based on the proud Sufi lodges, whose form of worship is violently opposed by al-Qaeda."
Al Qaeda's threats to General Musharraf are not new either. In July, Zawahiri condemned Pakistan's military assault on Islamic fighters who took over the Red Mosque in Islamabad this summer. He later praised one of the militants' leaders, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who was killed in the fighting, reports the Associated Press. In the new bin Laden recording, in which his voice is heard over already-released footage, the Al Qaeda leader calls Musharraf an "infidel."
The storming of the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July "demonstrated Musharraf's insistence on continuing his loyalty, submissiveness and aid to America against the Muslims ... and makes armed rebellion against him and removing him obligatory," bin Laden said in the message.
"So when the capability is there, it is obligatory to rebel against the apostate ruler, as is the case now," he said, according to a transcript released by Laura Mansfield, a U.S. terrorism expert who monitors militant message traffic.