Al Qaeda tape 'given' to 'Al Jihadzeera' shows Bin Laden 'lieutenant' Al Zawahiri threatening attacks on UK and US
Bush dismisses Al Qaeda warning
By Peter Spiegel, Defence Correspondent
Published: August 5 2005
Ayman al-Zawahiri, second in command of the al-Qaeda terror network, said in a videotape broadcast yesterday that the policies of Tony Blair, including support for the US-led invasion of Iraq, were to blame for the bombings in London four weeks ago.
In the tape, broadcast by the al-Jazeera Arabic satellite network, Mr al-Zawahiri warned there could be more attacks on the British capital unless "the people of the crusader coalition ... leave Muslim land".
"Blair's policies brought you destruction in central London and will bring you more destruction," Mr al-Zawahiri said, according to a transcript posted on al-Jazeera's website.
The prime minister's office declined to comment yesterday but Mr Blair has rejected claims that the war has increased the terrorist threat and last week said it was an obscenity to use that conflict as justification for the attacks.
George W. Bush, US president, said the tape showed Iraq remained central to the American-led anti-terrorism campaign. The US would not retreat from Iraq despite Mr al-Zawahiri's "threatening" message. "The comments by the number two man of al-Qaeda make it clear that Iraq is part of this war on terror and we're at war," he said. "We will stay the course. We will complete the job in Iraq."
The broadcast is the latest in a series of video and audio tapes by Mr al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda's titular leader, using the war to criticise western leaders and rally Muslims.
But British police are unconvinced that the London bombers had close links to a bigger international terrorist network.
The broadcast comes four weeks after the attacks which killed 52 London commuters.
Mr al-Zawahiri did not say whether al-Qaeda had a role in the bombings but said: "To the people of the crusader coalition ... our blessed Sheikh Osama has offered you a truce so that you leave Muslim land.
"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."
Additional reporting by Ben Hall in London Bomb attacks, Page 2 Over a barrel, Page 9 London terror, www.ft.com/terror-----------------
Ayman al-Zawahri warned that there would be further violence unless the US and its allies withdrew from Iraq.
His comments were made in a videotape broadcast on the Arab satellite television network al-Jazeera.
Mr Bush dismissed Zawahri's ideology as "dark, dim and backwards" and said Iraqis wanted to live in freedom.
'Clash of ideologies'
"He's threatening. They have come up against a nation that will defend itself," he said.
"The Iraqis want to live in a free society. Zawahri doesn't want them to live in a free society. And that's the clash of ideologies: freedom versus tyranny," he added.
In the tape, Zawahri - dressed in a white tunic and black turban and posed next to a rifle - warned other nations to leave Muslim lands to avoid further violence.
He threatened an escalation in attacks, saying the losses in Afghanistan and Iraq were only those of "initial clashes".
"If you continue the same policy of aggression against Muslims, God willing, you will see the horror that will make you forget what you had seen in Vietnam," he said.
The al-Qaeda deputy also said that the foreign policy decisions of Prime Minister Tony Blair were directly responsible for the London attacks.
Excuse to attack
Mr Blair denies his policies provoked the 7 July bombs, which killed 56. His office has refused to comment on the latest al-Qaeda tape.
Mr Blair has said the Iraq war is merely an excuse for those who want to attack the UK.
In a scathing attack, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also criticised those who, he said, were clinging to a discredited theory which viewed the London attacks as retaliation for war in Iraq.
He labelled the theory "nonsense".
Mr Blair has acknowledged Iraq is being used to recruit terrorists, but insisted the roots of extremism were much deeper.
Zawahri last appeared in a video in June, saying Muslims should not rely on peaceful protests but should also use violence. He also appeared in a video in February.
The Egyptian-born Zawahri is thought to be Bin Laden's deputy and to have been hiding in the rugged border areas of either Pakistan or Afghanistan.