June 23, 2006

Zawahri vows vengeance against US

By Yara Bayoumy

DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's second-in-command vowed
vengeance against the United States for the death of Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq killed in a U.S. air
strike two weeks ago.

"Yes (George W.) Bush, there isn't a single person who'll
be killed that we won't get vengeance for, God willing," Ayman
al-Zawahri said in comments addressed to the U.S. president on
a videotape aired by al Jazeera television late on Friday.

"Do you remember, Bush, the mujahid Osama bin Laden's vow
that America will not dream of security until we experience it
in Palestine? ... So try uselessly to dream of peace," said
Zawahri, bespectacled and wearing a black turban.

Zawahri hailed Zarqawi as a martyr and attacked Iraqi Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki, saying, "he traded the name of Islam
to get to the seat of power." He also blasted U.S. Ambassador
to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, calling him an "Afghan infidel."

Zawahri addressed the American public, saying Bush was
lying when he says the United States would "win" by killing
Osama bin Laden, Taliban chief Mullah Omar and other leading
Qaeda and Taliban figures.

"He (Bush) is hiding from you the real disaster you're
facing," he said, against a backdrop of a picture of Zarqawi
and a banner stating: "Zarqawi, the Muslim nation's martyr and
the prince of martyrs.

"You're not facing figures or organizations but you're
facing the Muslim nation which is flowing with the spirit of

A U.S. counterterrorism official said there was no reason
to doubt the authenticity of the videotape, which he said was
the eighth Zawahri had released since January 2006.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he described Zawahri's
direct addresses to Bush as "jihadist bravado."

"It's part of their ongoing propaganda campaign to appear
relevant by commenting on current topics," the official said.

Zawahri attacked religious scholars in Iraq as "those who
subscribe falsely to Islam."

He also lambasted Turkey for being a secular country and
one which dismissed Islamic law, welcomed U.S. bases and
recognized Israel.

In a three-minute Internet video posted on Thursday,
Zawahri urged Afghans to fight foreign troops in their country
whom he said had a history of denigrating Islam.

Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, named as the new leader of al Qaeda
in Iraq, has also vowed to avenge the killing of his