CAIRO, Egypt - Al-Qaida's No. 2 condemned U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon as enemies of Islam and warned the terror group will strike the Persian Gulf and Israel, suggesting new fronts in its war against the West in a video Monday marking the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The video of Ayman al-Zawahri was one of three al-Qaida released for the anniversary, showing increasingly sophisticated techniques as the group tries to demonstrate that it remains a powerful, confident force five years into the U.S. war on terror.
Al-Zawahri spoke in the third and longest video, warning Americans of more attacks to come.
"We have repeatedly warned you and offered a truce with you. Now we have all the legal and rational justification to continue to fight you until your power is destroyed or you give in and surrender," he said. "The days are pregnant and giving birth to new events."
One will recall that al-Zawahiri and Adam Gadahn just called on "Americans and unbelievers" to convert to Islam at the beginning of the month -- as Muhammad required that an enemy be invited to convert before an attack (Sahih Muslim 19.4294).
He also called on his followers to attack the U.S. in response to its jailing of a prominent Muslim cleric.
"I call on every Muslim to make use of every opportunity afforded him to take revenge on America for its imprisonment of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman," he said.
Abdel-Rahman, a blind cleric from Egypt, was convicted in the U.S. of seditious conspiracy for his advisory role in a plot to blow up five New York City landmarks, including the United Nations in 1995.
Al-Zawahri's comments also pointed to new fronts for al-Qaida attacks. The terror network has had few operations in Lebanon, Israel or in the Gulf region -- except for in Saudi Arabia, where its branch carried out a campaign of violence in recent years but has been heavily damaged by a government crackdown.
He urged his followers to attack Western targets to stop what he said was the stealing of oil from Muslim countries.
Both Lebanon and Israel have warned of a possible growing al-Qaida presence.
"We have seen over the last months increased al-Qaida activity in our area," in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt's Sinai peninsula, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said. "We've seen an attempt by al-Qaida to also infiltrate in Gaza and even in the West Bank, so we take the threat very seriously and we're taking the appropriate countermeasures," he said, without elaborating.
Addressing the United States, al-Zawahri said "you should not waste your time" reinforcing troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, "because they are doomed to defeat."
"Instead, you have to reinforce your troops in two regions. First is the Gulf, where you will be thrown out after you are defeated in Iraq, at which point your economic ruin will be achieved," he said. "The second is Israel, because the jihad reinforcements are getting closer to it."
He also denounced the U.N. peacekeeping force now moving into Lebanon under terms set out in a U.N. cease-fire resolution that on Aug. 14 ended fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas. He suggested Muslims should prevent the peacekeepers' deployment.
"What is so terrible in this resolution ... is that it approves the existence of the Jewish state and isolates our mujahedeen in Palestine from Muslims in Lebanon," he said. "This is consecrated by the presence of international troops who are hostile to Islam."
"Anyone who accepts this resolution means that he accepts all these catastrophes," he said.
The Egyptian-born al-Zawahri called on the Muslim world "to rush with everything at its disposal to the aid of its Muslim brothers in Lebanon and Gaza" and accused Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia of being "traitors" when it came to those two conflicts.
The comments about Lebanon -- which indicated the video was recent -- were the first indirect threat against the French-led force deploying there, tasked with enforcing a border zone free of Hezbollah weapons.
But it is not clear al-Qaida has the means to carry out significant attacks in Lebanon. The Sunni-led al-Qaida and Shiite Hezbollah are considered enemies. The Shiite guerrillas were angered over the terror group's interference in December, when al-Qaida in Iraq claimed a rocket attack from Lebanon into northern Israel, provoking Israeli airstrikes on a Palestinian base in Lebanon.
Al-Zawahri also called on Iraq's Kurds to shun America and Israel.
... [The] central leadership's propaganda machine has gotten more sophisticated, aiming to rally militants and romanticizing the jihad, or holy war, against the United States as a heroic fight.