DUBAI (Reuters) – Al Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri said in a video tape aired on Wednesday that Palestinian elections would not free Palestinian land and would deal a blow to holy war against Israeli occupation.
“Those who are trying to free Islamic land through elections that are based on secular constitutions … will not free a grain of Palestinian sand, but will choke jihad,” he said in the tape broadcast by Al Jazeera television.
It was not clear when the recording, only excerpts of which were aired, was made. An Islamist Web site has said it would release a recording of Zawahri, the right hand man of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Saturday for early elections to break a deadlock between his Fatah faction and Hamas, which has accused him of a “coup” against its elected government.
Zawahri also lashed out at Hamas for being “dragged” into taking part in elections, which he said would eventually lead to the recognition of the Jewish state. “How did they (Hamas) not demand an Islamic constitution for Palestine before entering any elections, are they not an Islamic movement?”
“Recognizing Mahmoud Abbas, America’s man, as a legitimate (president) … is a form of recognising Israel,” he said.
The bespectacled Egyptian militant said negotiations with the West would not help Palestinians.
“Any path other than jihad will only lead us to loss and defeat,” said Zawahri, who was dressed in a white robe and black turban with a rifle propped up behind him.
In a video aired on June 9, Zawahri urged Palestinians to reject a referendum on a statehood proposal that implicitly recognizes Israel.
Al Qaeda regards the United States as its chief enemy and argues that Washington’s Middle East policies further the interests of Israel at the expense of Muslims.
Wednesday’s tape is the first by Zawahri since September 29 when he appeared in a video posted on the Internet in which he called President Bush a lying failure for talking of progress in the war on terrorism.