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al-Qaida Leader: U.S. 'Broken' in Iraq

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By LEE KEATH
The Associated Press
Friday, April 28, 2006; 10:20 PM

CAIRO, Egypt -- Hundreds of suicide bombings in Iraq have "broken the back" of the U.S. military, al-Qaida's No. 2 said in a video posted Saturday _ the latest in a series of messages from the terror network.

The video by Ayman al-Zawahri, posted on an Islamic militant Web forum, came within the same week as an audiotape by al-Qaida's top leader Osama bin Laden and a video by the head of al-Qaida's branch in Iraq _ a volley of messages by the group's most prominent figures.

Al-Zawahri, an Egyptian militant believed to be hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan, also denounced the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq as "traitors" and called on Muslims to rise up to "confront them."

He said that U.S. and British forces in Iraq had bogged down in Iraq and "have achieved nothing but loss, disaster and misfortune."

Al-Qaida in Iraq "alone has carried out 800 martyrdom operations (suicide attacks) in three years, besides the sacrifices of the other mujahedeen, and this is what has broken the back of American in Iraq," al-Zawahri said.

The video by al-Zawahri was first obtained by IntelCenter, a U.S. contractor that provides counterterrorism intelligence services to the U.S. government

U.S. counterterrorism officials were aware of the video and analyzing it, two officials said on condition of anonymity.

One of the officials, who would not be identified in compliance with office policy, said it was part of al-Qaida's ongoing propaganda blitz to demonstrate the terror group remained relevant.

Bin Laden issued an audiotape on Sunday accusing the United States and Europe of supporting a "Zionist" war on Islam in what many analysts saw as an attempt to draw support from moderate Muslims.

Two days later, the head of al-Qaida in Iraq _ the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi _ issued an audiotape in which he showed his face for the first time and denounced Iraq's attempts to form a new government. He called on Sunni Arabs to join the "jihad" or holy war in Iraq.

It was not known what prompted the release of bin Laden's, al-Zawahri's and al-Zarqawi's messages within the space of one week _ and to what degree they were coordinated.

Al-Zawahri's 16-minute video posted Saturday, entitled "A Message to the People of Pakistan," was mainly dedicated to criticism of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, accusing him of undermining his own country to help the United States, Israel and India.


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