KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, AP – Al-Qaida”s No. 2 leader released a new video, broadcast on Al-Jazeera television Friday, in which he disparaged the U.S. concept of reform in the Middle East and said armed jihad is the only way to bring change in the Arab world.
The message by Ayman al-Zawahri, — his first video since February — appeared to be an attempt by Osama bin Laden”s al-Qaida network to co-opt the rising wave of reform movements in the Middle East.
"The removal of the Crusader and Jewish invaders won”t occur by peaceful demonstrations," he said in a brief clip shown on the pan-Arab network. "Reform and expelling the invaders from the countries of Islam won”t happen except through fighting for God”s sake."
The Egyptian was shown in the video sitting before a plain backdrop with an automatic weapon leaned next to him. He wore a white turban and black and white robes. At one point, he glanced to the left at something off-camera.
He outlined what he called a true program for reform — based on the rule of Islamic law, the end of U.S. and Western domination, and the freedom of the Muslim nation to run its own affairs.
"We cannot imagine any reform while our countries are occupied by the Crusader forces," he said. "We cannot imagine any reform while our governments are being ruled from the American embassies in our countries."
The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera aired three short segments of the video, without saying how long the full message was. Al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout said the station received the tape Friday, but would not provide details.
Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan, the Pakistan bureau chief of Al-Jazeera said they didn”t receive al-Zawahri”s tape in Islamabad.
In one of the aired clips, al-Zawahri called on Palestinian militant groups to end a cease-fire with Israel and stay out of upcoming legislative elections in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
Separately, an Internet statement in the name of the al-Qaida in Iraq group denied Friday that members of the terror network had been arrested this week in Spain and the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
The statement”s authenticity could not be verified but it appeared on an Islamic Web site known to carry messages from militant groups.
U.S. forces in Iraq said Thursday they had arrested the leader of the Mosul branch of al-Qaida in Iraq, Mohammed Khalaf. On Wednesday, the Spanish government said it had arrested 11 people who allegedly recruited for al-Qaida in Iraq.
"We have become used to the lies of the crusaders and their followers," said the statement. "Every now and then, they arrest a Muslim and they say: ”We captured an aide to Sheik al-Zarqawi.” The West liked the idea, so Spain claimed that it had arrested a group of al-Zarqawi aides."
"Recently in Mosul, the enemies of God claimed that they had arrested a senior official and an aide to al-Zarqawi. How many aides have they arrested so far?" the statement asked mockingly.
Al-Zawahri is an Egyptian-trained doctor who served time in prison in Egypt for Islamic militancy. After his release, he moved to Afghanistan where he merged his militant faction with bin Laden”s in the late 1990s.
In February, Al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape purporting to show al-Zawahri denouncing U.S. calls for reform in the Middle East and urging the West to respect the Islamic world.