'Shameful initiative'

Al-Qaeda's number two also slammed Arab leaders collectively for backing the Saudi-drafted peace initiative, which was first presented in 2002, offering Israel full recognition in return for its withdrawal from the occupied territories and a just settlement for refugees.

"Who were those who agreed collectively to hand most of Palestine to the Jews, and said that the refugees issue can only be settled in arrangements with the Jews?

"Were they not the Arab rulers in their shameful initiative," he asked.

Al-Zawahiri, who has a US bounty of $25m on his head, resurfaced last in December, when he criticised US President's Middle East policy, charging it was "humiliating" for Muslims and a "new stage in the Crusader and Zionist campaign."

In his new tape, he said: "Poor [Barack] Obama comes to Kabul pledging that Taliban will not return to power... Poor you, can you promise that your herds (of soldiers) will return safe to America?"

"You threaten the Taliban, you are just a puppet of the tyrants ... We'll see who will not return to Kabul because he will flee it hastily in fear."

"Obama, whether you admit it or not, Muslims have defeated you in Iraq and Afghanistan and will defeat you in Palestine, Somalia and the Islamic Maghreb," he added.