CAIRO, Egypt, (AP) – An al-Qaeda commander who escaped from a U.S. prison in Afghanistan appeared in a new videotape Sunday criticizing Hamas and other Islamic groups that he said prioritized nationalism and electoral politics over jihad, or holy war.
Hamas is focused on the creation of an independent Palestinian state rather than al-Qaeda’s vision of a worldwide Muslim community ruled by Islamic law. Like al-Qaeda, the Palestinian movement advocates violence to achieve its goal, but has also participated in elections alongside the moderate Palestinian Fatah group.
“We caution some of the Islamic groups, among them Hamas, which are risking the bloods of their sons … to cleanse and purify their jihad of contemporary jihadi pollutants,” said Abu Yahia al-Libi in the 90-minute videotape.
“Patriotism, nationalism, shared unity, the supreme interest and other slogans … none of these have any space in the religion of Allah the Glorious and the Great,” he said, criticizing groups such as Hamas for “abandoning jihad and jumping into the ballot boxes.”
The authenticity of the videotape could not be verified, but it was released on a Web site commonly used by Islamic militants and carried the logo of Al-Sahab, al-Qaeda’s media arm.
Sunday’s release came only days after Osama Bin Laden released his first new video in almost three years, lecturing Americans on the failure of their leaders to stop the war in Iraq.
Al-Libi, wearing a white traditional Arab robe and a black turban, also ridiculed the U.S. for its troubles in Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming the country’s power and prestige was in decline.
“America, which is one of the major evil spirits of the age, was only a few years ago bragging about its power and boasting of its army and materiel, at a time when everyone was subordinate to it and submissive to its resolutions,” said al-Libi, whose nom de guerre means “the Libyan” in Arabic.
“But today, where is America? Where is the vanity and arrogance of the American army and its policymakers?” he added. “And moreover, where is the value of the American soldier whose killing used to make headlines in all the media but who today is dragged in the streets of Baghdad, hung on the bridges of Fallujah, rolled on the rocks of Afghanistan and burned to coals in the middle of its capital, Kabul.”
Al-Libi praised the resurgence of Taliban militants in Afghanistan, who have made a comeback following a U.S.-led invasion in 2001 that ousted them from power.
Since his escape in 2005, al-Libi is believed by Western and Afghan intelligence to have run training camps for suicide bombers and fighters in eastern Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan. Afghan police said at the time of his escape that his real name is Abulbakar Mohammed Hassan and that he is a Libyan.