CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Al-Qaeda’s No. 2 issued a new tape on Tuesday threatening
to retaliate against Britain for having honored novelist Salman Rushdie, a U.S.-based intelligence monitoring group said.
Ayman al-Zawahri’s 20 minute and 43 seconds speech was entitled “Malicious
Britain and its Indian Slaves.” It was produced by as-Sahab, the multimedia wing of al-Qaeda, to be distributed to extremist web sites, said the US-based SITE intelligence group, which monitors al-Qaeda messages.
The authenticity of the tape, also reported by another US-based intelligence monitoring group, could not be independently confirmed.
Osama bin Laden’s deputy lashed out at Britain for having awarded a knighthood
to Rushdie last month, saying it was defying the Islamic world by granting the honor to the author of “The Satanic Verses,” deemed to insult Islam.
A “very precise response” is in preparation to retaliate against this offense,
al-Zawahri was quoted as saying by SITE.
Addressing British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the al-Qaida deputy chief said
Britain’s strategy in the Middle East “has brought tragedy and defeat upon you, not only in Afghanistan and Iraq but also in the center of London.” This appeared to be a reference to the deadly London transit network bombings which occurred just about two years ago.
“And if you did not understand, listen, we are ready to repeat it for you,” al-Zawahri was quoted as warning the British prime minister.
The rest of al-Zawahri’s new tape addressed a variety of topics frequently raised by al-Qaeda.
The terrorism chief criticized the Palestinian Hamas for compromising with Israel, called Muslims to join the jihad — or holy war — against the West, and hailed a bombing that killed six United Nations peacekeepers in southern Lebanon last month, SITE said.
He also railed against Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, saying Muslims
should not oppose him through elections but by fighting alongside the Taliban.
It was not immediately clear whether al-Zawahri recorded his tape before or after the June 29 thwarted terror plot in Britain or since police began ongoing clashes with
religious students at a radical mosque in Pakistan.