Passing on problem
Marking the fifth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, Zawahri said that the administration of George Bush, the US president, is passing on a "problem" to the president's successor by guaranteeing that a heavy foreign military presence stays in Iraq for the rest of Bush's term.
Following the advice of General David Petraeus, the US' senior commander in Iraq, to delay troop withdrawals, the current total of 160,000 soldiers is scheduled to shrink to about 140,000 by the end of July.
"The truth is that if Bush keeps all his forces in Iraq until doomsday and until they enter hell, they will only see crisis and defeat by the will of God", Zawahri said.
Al Jazeera's Owen Fay in Baghdad reported: "What is interesting is the timing [of the message] in so far as it relates to the attacks that have been going on here ... It came just after an attack on a funeral, it came two days after a series of bombing attacks across the country that have been blamed on al-Qaeda in Iraq.
"The question that people are asking right now, is whether the al-Qaeda leadership in Iraq is reacting to events that have taken place here or if they are directing a new campaign."
The deputy al-Qaeda leader also blasted the Awakening Councils, groups comprising Sunni fighters who switched sides and started to work with the US to pacify predominantly Sunni areas of Iraq.
In Thursday's tape, Zawahri also said a fight to liberate Jerusalem would be launched from Iraq, reiterating earlier statements attributed to Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda.
In the latter part of the recording, Zawahri decried the "exploitation of Muslims" in Egypt.
Citing riots over rising bread prices, he said that those who are "starving the people of Egypt" are the same as those "who are denying food to the people of Gaza", connecting the two as "part of a Zionist-American plot to humiliate the Muslim nation".