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The Neo-Salafi Factor.

It is in such context that one must weigh the importance of any statements on the US problems in Iraq being made by Dr. Zawahiri. Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Zawahiri on May 5 was quoted in a web video as saying the [now vetoed] US congressional bill calling for a troop withdrawal from Iraq was proof of Washington's defeat.

The video mocked President Bush and US legislation requiring the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, saying the bill would rob the Neo-Salafi movement's fighters of the chance to kill more Americans. Similar statements are being made by heads of al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Iraq, including Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi who was killed in a US air strike near Ba'quba in June 2006.

Zawahiri said: "This bill reflects American failure and frustration. But this bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap".

The video was obtained by US-based monitoring groups who released a transcript to the media. A White House spokesman declined to comment on the video, which came four days after President Bush vetoed a $124 bn congressional war-spending measure that would have required a troop pullout from Iraq to begin by Oct. 1.

Zawahiri said: "We ask Allah that they only get out after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, so that we give the blood spillers in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson to motivate them to review their entire doctrinal and moral system". Zawahri denied that al-Qaeda and other Neo-Salafi insurgents were stirring up sectarian strife in Iraq, blaming instead the Shi'ite-led Baghdad government.

"The ones who have stirred up strife in Iraq are those who today are begging the Americans not to leave", said the white-turbaned Zawahiri, sitting next to bookshelves and an assault rifle. He mocked Bush for saying that a US-backed security plan for Baghdad was showing signs of success, adding: "The success is only for his pocket and Halliburton", referring to the giant US petroleum field service company once headed by Vice President Cheney.

Zawahiri made no mention of Bush vetoing the bill on May 3 - an indication the video may have been made beforehand. Zawahiri encouraged minorities around the world to join the Neo-Salafi holy war, or jihad, saying: "Al-Qaeda is not merely for the benefit of Muslims. That's why I want blacks in America, people of colour, American Indians, Hispanics, and all the weak and oppressed in North and South America, in Africa and Asia, and all over the world".

Zawahiri claimed that al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq were "nearing closer to victory over their enemy, despite this sectarian fighting" which has convulsed the country. He discussed other topics as well in the 67-minute video, including fighting in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Algeria, and Somalia. He made references to Saudi Arabia, Egyptian constitutional changes meant to cement the government's hold on power, and the Pentagon's release of the confessions of al-Qaeda No. 3, Khalid Shaikh Muhammad - the alleged 9/11 mastermind who was captured in Pakistan in March 2003.

Zawahiri called on African-American soldiers to refuse to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying America had only changed the "appearance of the shackles and chains" of their slave forefathers. He repeatedly praised Black Muslim leader Malcolm X on the video which included footage of the American militant's speeches, interspersed with documentary scenes of police action against blacks in the 1960s and poor blacks in urban ghettos.

Zawahiri's last public comments were on March 11, when he hit the leadership of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas over its Saudi-brokered deal with the US-backed Fatah.

In the new video, the Egyptian-born Zawahiri renewed his criticism of Hamas and other Islamist groups for adopting a more moderate "culture of compromise". He is al-Qaeda's most determined figure pushing for a Sunni Caliphate to control the world and to be dominated by the Neo-Salafis.

The May 5 video was the fifth message - including posted video and audio tapes - by Dr. Zawahiri this year. A medical doctor from a higher middle-class family of Egypt, Zawahiri used to head Egypt's Islamic Jihad movement which in October 1980 assassinated then Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat.

Al-Qaeda's Saudi-born leader Osama bin Laden has not surfaced in any communications since mid-2006.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Fate of the Arabian Peninsula
Date:May 14, 2007
Previous Article:Pax Americana In Iraq Is Changing - Part 11 - US Politics.
Next Article:The Iran Factor.

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