CAIRO, Egypt, (AP) – Osama bin Laden will release a new message soon declaring war on Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, al-Qaeda announced Thursday.
The announcement of the upcoming message came as al-Qaeda released a new video in which bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, boasted that the United States was being defeated in Afghanistan, Iraq and other fronts.
Speakers in the video promised more fighting in Afghanistan, North Africa and Sudan’s Darfur region.
The messages are part of a stepped-up propaganda campaign by al-Qaeda around the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Earlier this month, bin Laden released two messages — including his first new appearance in a video in nearly three years.
A banner posted on an Islamic militant Web site on Thursday advertised that another message would be released, though it did not say whether bin Laden would appear in video or speak in an audiotape.
“Soon, God willing: ‘Come to Jihad (holy war)’, from sheik Osama bin Laden, God protect him” the banner read.
“Urgent, al-Qaeda declares war on the tyrant Pervez Musharraf and his apostate army, in the words of Osama bin Laden,” it read.
Such advertisements usually precede the release of the video by one to three days, according to IntelCenter, a U.S. counterterrorism group that monitors militant messages.
The sophisticated 80-minute video released Thursday on the same Web site was in the style of a documentary, intersplicing the speech by al-Zawahri with footage from the Sept. 11 attacks, interviews with experts and officials taken from Western and Arab television stations, and old footage and audiotapes of bin Laden.
Al-Zawahri began by condemning the Pakistani military’s July assault on Islamic militants who took over the Red Mosque in Islamabad, and he paid tribute to one of the militants’ leaders, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who was killed in the fighting.
The siege “revealed the extent of the despicableness, lowliness and treason of Musharraf and his forces, who don’t deserve the honor of defending Pakistan, because Pakistan is a Muslim land, whereas the forces of Musharraf are hunting dogs under (President) Bush’s crucifix,” al-Zawahri said.
“Let the Pakistani army know that the killing of Abdul Rashid Ghazi and his male and female students … has soaked the history of the Pakistan army in shame and despicableness which can only washed away by retaliation,” he said.
Bin Laden and al-Zawahri are thought to be hiding in the lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, where many analysts believe they have rebuilt al-Qaeda’s core leadership.
Al-Zawahri called for attacks on French and Spanish interests in North Africa and on U.N. and African peacekeepers expected to deploy in Sudan’s wartorn Darfur region.
“What they claim to be the strongest power in the history of mankind is today being defeated in front of the Muslim vanguards of jihad six years after the two raids on New York and Washington,” al-Zawahri said, speaking in what appeared to be an office, with shelves of religious books and an automatic rifle leaning against them.
“The Crusaders themselves have testified to their defeat in Afghanistan at the hands of the lions of the Taliban,” he said. “The Crusaders have testified to their own defeat in Iraq at the hands of the mujahideen, who have taken the battle of Islam to the heart of the Islam world.”
The video included footage of al-Qaeda’s leader in Afghanistan, Mustafa Abu al-Yazeed, meeting with a senior Taliban commander. In contrast to past videos that showed al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in rough desert terrain, Abu al-Yazeed and the commander were shown sitting in a verdant field surrounded by trees as a jihad anthem played, extolling the virgins that will meet martyrs in paradise.
Abu al-Yazeed said al-Qaeda’s ties with the Taliban were strengthening. The Taliban commander, Dadullah Mansoor, said: “We shall target the infidels in Afghanistan and outside Afghanistan: inside all the infidel countries oppressing the Muslims. And we shall focus our attacks, Allah willing, on the coalition forces in Afghanistan.”
Another clip in the video showed Abu Musab Abdulwadood, the leader of Algeria’s main Islamic insurgency movement, addressing bin Laden and vowing that “our swords are unsheathed.”
Al-Zawahri called on supporters in North Africa to “cleanse the Maghrib (western region) of Islam of the children of France and Spain … Stand with your sons the mujahideen against the Crusaders and their children.”
The video also included what IntelCenter said appeared to be old, but previously unreleased footage of bin Laden. The images show the terror leader, with a beard streaked with gray and a white cloth draped over his head, in front of a map showing the Middle East and South and Central Asia. He points to the map with a stick and addresses an unseen audience.
He condemns Arab Gulf governments that have allied themselves with the United States, saying they have “sold the Islamic nation, colluded with the enemies of Islam and backed the infidels. And this is the greater form of being an infidel … But Allah permitting, they shall leave the Gulf under the blows of the mujahideen,” bin Laden said.