DUBAI,(Reuters) – Al Qaeda’s deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri said hundreds of suicide bombers had “broken America’s back” in three years of war in Iraq, according to a video posted on the Internet on Saturday.
The release of the video came just days after the broadcast of an audio tape from Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and a rare video from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the group’s leader in Iraq.
Zawahri also called for the overthrow of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who has survived several al Qaeda-inspired assassination attempts since allying himself with Washington.
Pakistan has captured or killed hundreds of al Qaeda members.
“Al Qaeda in Iraq alone has carried out 800 martyrdom operations in three years, besides the victories of the other mujahideen. And this is what has broken the back of America in Iraq,” Zawahri said in the video posted on an Islamist Web site.
Many thousands of Iraqis have been killed in a relentless insurgent campaign of suicide and car bombings that mostly target U.S. soldiers and Iraq’s fledgling security forces.
Nearly 2,400 American soldiers have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, many by roadside bombs, and April has been the bloodiest month of the year so far for U.S. forces.
“America, Britain and their allies have achieved nothing but losses, disasters and misfortunes,” the Egyptian Islamic militant leader said in the video.
Zawahri, bespectacled and wearing a black turban and a white robe, sat in front of a curtain. He did not appear to have his customary assault rifle next to him.
A statement accompanying the video said it was made in the latter part of the Muslim month, which ended on Friday.
Zawahri also condemned the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as “traitors” for their close ties to the West and Musharraf as a “treacherous criminal”.
“The West which claims to support democracy … is encouraging Musharraf to stay in power by any means after he demonstrated his aptitude at killing Muslims,” Zawahri said in the video, which carried English subtitles.
“I call on the Pakistani people to stand with Islam against the Zionist-Crusader assault … and topple this bribe-taking treacherous criminal,” he added.
Zawahri and bin Laden are believed to be hiding in restive tribal borders areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“Musharraf is fanning the flames of civil war in Pakistan on behalf of America in Waziristan and Baluchistan,” Zawahri said, referring to areas where the Pakistani government has fought tribal forces with ties to al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.
“He is inviting the Pakistani army to fight its own people and brothers and turn a blind eye to the Indian threat.”
In his last Internet message in March, Zawahri called for attacks on the West, urging similar strikes as those against New York, London and Madrid.