CAIRO, Egypt (AP) – Al-Qaeda’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, has attacked the leaders of Egypt and the Palestinians, accusing them of betraying Islam and collaborating with the United States and Israel, according to an Internet statement published in his name Monday.
Referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and a senior member of his Fatah party, al-Zawahri asks in the statement: “How is it possible for Mahmoud Abbas to be a brother of ours, or for Mohammed Dahlan to be a brother of ours, when they have grown fat on the bribes of the Jews and gifts of the Americans?”
The statement, posted Monday, congratulates Islamic holy warriors around the world on the start of the feast of al-Adha and on what he calls “the defeat of the Americans and their crusader allies in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
In the statement, al-Zawahri accuses the Egyptian, Saudi Arabian and Yemeni governments of serving the interests of the United States, saying that Washington “bombs the Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq,” and orders Arab leaders to pump their oil wells dry and sell crude petroleum “at the cheapest of rates to consume the nation’s treasure.”
The statement could not be authenticated but it appeared on two Islamic Web sites known for publishing militant material.
It was not clear when the statement was written. The only date it gave was December 2006 and its equivalent in the Islamic calendar.
The statement made no mention of events in the past few days that have made headlines around the Arab world, such as the execution of Saddam Hussein on Saturday and the Ethiopian forces’ entry into the Somali capital, Mogadishu, last week.
In fact, the statement appears to be ignorant of the defeat of the Islamic militia, the Union of Islamic Courts, that was driven out of Mogadishu by the Ethiopians. “I also congratulate my Muslim brothers in Somalia and encourage them to be firm in defense of the honor of Islam and Muslims in East Africa,” al-Zawahri says.
The statement, which runs to four and a half pages, is a message of encouragement that takes pains to mention Muslim fighters and prisoners everywhere, but offers nothing in the way of new ideas or policies.
Al-Zawahri tosses out insults to a bevy of leaders, making no effort to substantiate his allegations. He calls Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf a “bribe-taker,” Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak a “traitor,” Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh an “agent of America,” and he accuses the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman of being a “fanatical Zionist.”
He encourages Muslim women to continue wearing headscarves despite the “fierce crusade” against them. A scarved woman is “a soldier in the battle of Islam against the Zionist crusade” and “she should know that the hijab (headscarf), a symbol of her modesty and purity, tears (Westerners) apart inside because it exposes the depravity of their civilization.”
Al-Zawahri does not mention the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, who has not issued a video or audio tape for six months, but he praises the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, whose Afghanistan regime was overthrown by U.S.-backed forces in 2001. He calls Omar “the commander of the faithful.”
The two Web sites said the statement was available in an audio tape in Arabic, but this could not be opened. The text of the statement appears in English on the Web, translated by the al-Qaeda media production house, al-Sahab.