The second-in-command of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida network has made the Queen a target for terrorist attacks, security sources confirmed yesterday.
Previously unseen footage from a video message, parts of which were broadcast on the al-Jazeera satellite channel in September, shows Ayman al-Zawahiri calling the Queen “one of the severest threats to Islam“. MI5 alerted Buckingham Palace to the threat after studying a full version of the video and advised the Queen to take extra precautions.
In the video, al-Zawahiri says the Queen is responsible for the UK’s “crusader laws” and is an enemy of Muslims. He also warns the country’s Islamic leaders not to “work for the pleasure of Elizabeth, the head of the Church of England”. Those who followed her, he said, were saying: “We are British citizens, subject to Britain’s crusader laws, and we are proud of our submission … to Elizabeth, head of the Church of England”.
Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian, is an adviser to Bin Laden and, according to the FBI, is thought to be in Afghanistan. He has been indicted for his alleged role in the1998 bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and is on the FBI’s most-wanted list, with a $25m ( £14.3m) reward for information leading to arrest or conviction.
Al-Qaida issued the 27-minute video after the July 7 attacks and used it to justify the bombings. In the Middle East it can be seen on secure jihadist websites, and in Britain the film has been posted on the Tajdeed website, run by the London-based extremist Muhammad al-Massari. It also contains previously unseen material from Mohammad Siddique Khan, 30, thought to be the ringleader behind the London bombings, which killed 52 people.
He says: “Our so-called scholars of today are content with their Toyotas and semi-detached houses”; and he denounces those “who issue fatwas according to the school of thought of the head of the Church of England”. This is thought to be aimed at Britain’s moderate Islamic leaders who seek greater integration.
Khan, from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, also says: “It is very clear, brothers and sisters, that the path of jihad and the desire for martyrdom is embedded in the holy prophet and his beloved companions. By preparing ourselves for this kind of work, we are guaranteeing ourselves for paradise and gaining the pleasure of Allah. And by turning our back on this work, we are guaranteeing ourselves humiliation and the anger of Allah. Jihad is an obligation on every single one of us, men and women.”
MI5 has asked the government for more funds to recruit hundreds more staff to combat terrorism. Funds were also increased last year to recruit 1,000 staff. MI5’s budget, an official secret, is between £200m and £300m.