Monday, January 30, 2006

Terror Chief Taunts Bush


Al Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called President Bush a "butcher" and a "failure" in a videotape aired on Arab television Monday, his first appearance since an American airstrike that targeted him this month in Pakistan.

Al-Zawahiri, shown in the video wearing white robes and a white turban, said the Jan. 13 airstrike killed "innocents" and said the United States had ignored an offer from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden for a truce. The video was aired on the Arab news network Al-Jazeera.

"Butcher of Washington, you are not only defeated and a liar, but also a failure. You are a curse on your own nation," he said, referring to Mr. Bush. "Bush, do you know where I am? I am among the Muslim masses."

The airstrike hit a building in the eastern Pakistan village of Damadola, killing four al Qaeda leaders. Thirteen villagers were also killed in the strike, angering many Pakistanis.

"My second message is to the American people, who are drowning in illusions. I tell you that Bush and his gang are shedding your blood and wasting your money in frustrated adventures," he said, speaking in a forceful and angry voice.

"The lion of Islam, Sheik Osama bin Laden, may God protect him, offered you a decent exit from your dilemma. But your leaders, who are keen to accumulate wealth, insist on throwing you in battles and killing your souls in Iraq and Afghanistan and – God willing – on your own land."

There was no immediate comment from the White House on the new Zawahiri tape, CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller reports.

The video came in the wake of a Jan. 19 audiotape by bin Laden in which he warned that al Qaeda is preparing attacks in the United States but offered a truce "with fair conditions" to build Iraq and Afghanistan.

The tape – also aired on Al-Jazeera – was the first message from bin Laden in more than a year.