Al-Qaida no. 2: Jihad to spread toward Jerusalem after U.S. exit from Iraq

Al-Qaida‘s second-in-command on Wednesday forecasted rise in Islamic militant power after a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, and vowed to attack Jews both within and outside Israel.

“I expect the Jihadi influence to spread after the Americans’ exit from Iraq, and to move towards Jerusalem,” Ayman Al-Zawahri said in response to questions compiled by Islamist Web sites.

“We promise our Muslim brothers that we will do our utmost to strike Jews in Israel and abroad with help and guidance from God,” he said to those asking when attacks on Israel would take place.

Last week, the Al-Qaida leader called on Muslims to strike Israeli, Jewish and American interests in revenge for Israel’s ground incursion in the Gaza Strip in early March.

Al-Zawahri on Wednesday also said that Osama bin Laden was well and reports he was sick were false.


“Sheikh Osama bin Laden is in good health,” the militant leader said. “The ill-intentioned always try to circulate false reports about him being sick.”

The audio message, which was accompanied by a 46-page English transcript, was the first installment of answers to a raft of online questions and focused mainly on future al-Qaida efforts elsewhere in the region, particularly Egypt.

Al-Zawahri, who, like Bin Laden is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan, also denounced the United Nations.

“The United Nations is an enemy of Islam and Muslims,” he said. He defended attacks on UN offices in an apparent reference to twin bomb attacks on UN buildings in Algiers which killed 41 people in December and the 2003 bombing of a UN building in Baghdad which killed 22.


In response to criticism Wednesday about the organization’s notoriously brutal tactics, Al-Zawahri maintained that Al-Qaida does not kill innocents.

“We haven’t killed the innocents, not in Baghdad nor in Morocco, nor in Algeria, nor anywhere else,” he said according to the English transcript which, like the audio message, appeared on Web sites linked to the group.

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Ha'aretz, Israel
Apr. 3, 2008
www.haaretz.com

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This post was last updated: Apr. 3, 2008