DUBAI,(Reuters) – On the eve of the anniversary of the London bombings, Al Jazeera television aired video footage of al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahri praising one of the suicide bombers who also appeared on the tape to threaten more attacks.
“What you have witnessed now is only the beginning of a string of attacks that will continue and become stronger until you pull your forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq,” said the bearded man, identified as Shehzad Tanweer, in a testament filmed prior to the July 7, 2005, bombings.
“And until you stop your financial and military support to America and Israel,” said Tanweer, one of the bombers who attacked London’s transport system last year killing 52 people.
His comments were in English but dubbed into Arabic and he was wearing a red-and-white chequered turban.
British police said they were aware of the tape, which was broadcast on Thursday.
“There can be no doubt that the release of the video at this time can only cause maximum hurt and distress to the families and friends of those who died on (July 7) and the hundreds of people who were injured in the terrorist attacks,” London Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman said.
“We are sure that the overwhelming majority of all communities are united in condemning any attempt to justify last year’s terrorist attacks in London.”
Al Jazeera said Zawahri praised Tanweer, saying: “He (Tanweer) studied physical fitness at university and he had a passion for boxing. Even though he was from a well-off family, his clothes and appearance didn’t show that.”
Tanweer and Zawahri did not appear together on the tape and they had different backgrounds when speaking.
Al Jazeera said al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden also praised the London attacks. The video showed a picture of bin Laden but his voice could not be heard.
The video showed masked men apparently conducting scientific experiments in dishes and testing a small explosive device in what it said were al Qaeda’s training camps.
The Jazeera commentary said the video showed the militants had chosen their targets specifically. The video also showed a group of men firing gunshots into the air after they apparently heard of the success of the London bombings.
In September, the suspected ringleader of the July 7 London suicide bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan, warned of more strikes in a similar video taped before the attacks that included praise for the bombings from Zawahri.
Khan, 30, Tanweer, 22, and a third man Hasib Hussain, 18, grew up in the English city of Leeds. The fourth, Jermaine Lindsay, 19 was born in Jamaica and converted to Islam in 2000.
Khan and Tanweer visited Pakistan between November 2004 and February 2005. Khan is thought to have received some training there. He is also thought to have had training in a remote part of Pakistan in July 2003, and it is believed he visited Pakistan and Afghanistan on other occasions from the late 1990s.