Al-Qaida's No. 2 Decries Moderate Arabs

The Associated Press
Saturday, December 30, 2006; 9:31 PM

CAIRO, Egypt -- The deputy leader of al-Qaida accused moderate Arab leaders of being traitors for cooperating with the United States and its allies in a taped message posted on militant Web sites Saturday.

Ayman al-Zawahri lashed out at Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement, saying "they cannot be brothers to the Muslims, but they are their enemies."

Abbas has urged his rival, the ruling Islamic Hamas group, to recognize Israel and denounce violence against the Jewish state. The dispute between the groups has exploded into open warfare on Gaza's streets in recent weeks.

"Those who had sold Palestine, the secular traitors, cannot be your brothers," said al-Zawahri in the 15-minute audiotape posted on a Web site commonly used by Islamic insurgents. "Do not recognize their legitimacy. ... And don't sit with them ... and do not sign with them the documents that will make you lose Palestine."

The tape, released on Eid al-Adha, the most important Islamic holiday, could not immediately be verified. But a banner posted on the Web site said it came from al-Qaida's media production house, al-Sahab.

Al-Zawahri did not mention Saddam Hussein's execution in the tape, suggesting it was made before the former dictator was hanged Saturday.

In his message, Osama bin Laden's deputy also denounced other Arab leaders including U.S. ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"I greet my brothers inside the prisons of Mubarak, the traitor," he said in an apparent in reference to recent arrests and detentions of several members of Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Al-Zawahri had harsh words for Saudi Arabia, charging the kingdom's government orders its citizens "to serve the crusader's forces that bomb Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that orders them to recognize Israel and give away Palestine."

Saudi Arabia has waged a three-year crackdown on al-Qaida in the kingdom. Security forces have killed or captured most of the al-Qaida branch's known top leaders, most recently in gunbattles in December

The militants launched a campaign in 2003 to overthrow the U.S.-allied royal family.

As part his Eid message, al-Zawahri vowed to set free detainees in the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay and Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

"Consider this a promise as long as I live," he said.

The deputy al-Qaida leader also extended his holiday greeting to other Muslims throughout the world, praising the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, and urging Muslims in Somalia, Chechnya, Indonesia, the Philippines and Algeria to keep on fighting the "infidels and crusaders."

© 2006 The Associated Press