Al-Qaida leader calls US soldiers 'cowards'

Al-Qaida number two Ayman al-Zawahri has called American soldiers cowards "with no faith in their leaders".

    Zawahri is the former head of the Egyptian Jemaah Islamiya

    In an audio tape broadcast on Aljazeera TV on Friday, al-Zawahri said a

    l-Qaida is pursuing Americans everywhere, but especially "in Afghanistan

    , in

    Iraq, in Palestine and in the Arab peninsula".

    The tape, which has yet to be verified for authenticity, is

     said to have been made in November during the Muslim

    fasting month of Ramadan.

    It marks the second anniversary of the battle

    of Tora Bora, when US-led forces in Afghanistan sought to wipe out a

    l-Qaida chief Usama bin Laden and other leaders of the group


    "Two years after Tora Bora... we continue to pursue the

    Americans everywhere," the voice said.

    "The Americans have become weaker in Iraq. Their soldiers are

    cowards because they have no faith in their leaders.

    'America defeated'

    "America has been defeated (by) our fighters despite all its

    military might, its weaponry."

    And in an apparent

    reference to an attack on a Baghdad hotel in October, al-Zawahri said:


    "Americans have become unable to defend themselves and even

    to protect their biggest criminals and leaders such as (Deputy

    Defense Secretary Paul) Wolfowitz."

    "How can we excuse you after all the warnings that we gave

    you. You reap what you sow"

    Ayman al-Zawahri to the American people

    The Al-Qaida number two, who has repeatedly urged Americans to oppose the

    policies of President George Bush, told

     the American people: 

    "How can we excuse you after all the warnings that we gave

    you. You reap what you sow."

    He also threatened Arab countries that provided "bases and help"

    to US forces to fight Muslims to be ready for "judgment day",

    saying the United States was getting ready to withdraw from the


    Al-Zawahri, a former eye surgeon, was b

    orn in Egypt in 1951.

    On the run

    He was tried along with scores of Islamists for the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat during a Cairo military parade.

    In the 1990s, an Egyptian court sentenced him to death in absentia for activities linked to Jemaah Islamiya.

    He is currently on the run from US forces who believe he is with bin Laden, probably somewhere along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

    The United States leads a 12,000-strong force in Afghanistan

    after a 2001 invasion ousted the Taliban government which


    gave shelter to al-Qaida


    The US blames the Islamist network for the September 11 attacks on the New York and Washington which killled around 3000 people.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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