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ARAB-ISLAMIC AFFAIRS - Feb. 25 - Qaeda Leader Threatens New Attacks.

In messages broadcast by Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera, Bin Ladin's deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri threatens further attacks against the US and lambasts France for banning Islamic head scarves. (The recordings are of recent vintage, as one mocks remarks from Pres. Bush's Jan. 2004 State of the Union speech and the other refers to December developments in the head scarf debate). The recording broadcast on Al-Jazeera says: "We remind Bush that he did not crush two-thirds of Al-Qaeda. On the contrary, thanks be to God, Al-Qaeda remains on the battleground of the holy war, raising the banner of Islam in the face of the Zionist-Crusader campaign against the Islamic community". (In his State of the Union speech, Bush said almost two-thirds of the known Al-Qaeda leadership had been either captured or killed. The recording on Al Jazeera, which one unidentified staff member in Qatar said sounded similar in cadence and vocabulary to previous Zawahiri messages, expressed wonder that the leader of a superpower could deliver a speech so full of lies. The tape says: "Bush, fortify your defences and intensify your security measures, because the Muslim nation, which sent brigades to New York and Washington, has decided to send you one brigade after another, carrying death and seeking paradise". An Egyptian surgeon, Zawahiri repeats the charge that the war on terrorism is really a war on Islam and condemns Islamic leaders co-operating with it. The tape also says: "Bush appoints corrupt leaders and protects them. A glance at the Islamic world from Morocco to Indonesia will reveal those US-backed leaders"). The second tape, broadcast on Al-Arabiya, singles out France for a pending law that will ban religious symbols like head scarves and large crosses in state schools. The recording says the ban "is new evidence of the extent of the Crusaders' hatred for Muslims, even if they brag about democracy, freedom and human rights". France, the country of liberty defends only the liberty of nudity, debauchery and decay, while fighting chastity and modesty". The recording also singles out Shaikh Mohammed Tantawi, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar University in Cairo, saying his support for the French decision was a "scandal". (Shaikh Tantawi said in late December Muslims in France must respect French law. Although France's vocal position against the war in Iraq wins it plaudits in the Arab world, this is not the first time it has been singled out by Al-Qaeda. A French supertanker, the Limburg, was attacked by a suicide bomber off the coast of Yemen in October 2002, killing one crewman. That came on the same day as another audiotape from Zawahiri, in which he said Al-Qaeda was sending messages to allies of the US to cease co-operating with it. Intelligence agencies around the world believe the recordings from Zawahiri or Bin Laden could contain signals to their operatives to launch attacks. The 2 men are believed to be in hiding together in the mountains along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They appeared together walking in a similarly rugged setting in a videotape released last September).
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Date:Feb 28, 2004
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