Al Qaeda's No. 2 Follows Bin Laden's Lead and Resurfaces


New York Times

January 21, 2006

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 20 - Just a day after Osama bin Laden resurfaced in a lengthy audiotape, a new recording by his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, appeared today, praising the "martyrs of holy war" in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories and elsewhere.

The Central Intelligence Agency confirmed today that the voice on the 18-minute audiotape, posted on an Internet forum that has carried Al Qaeda communiqués before, was Mr. Zawahiri's.

He read a poem honoring the "martyrs of jihad," or holy war, and dedicated it to "Muslim brothers everywhere, to the mujahedeen brothers in Islam's fortified borderlines against the Zionist-Crusader campaign in Palestine and Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya and to the lions chasing the crusaders' gangs and hired hands in Afghanistan's mountains and valleys and its wounded capital, Kabul."

"I am honored to present this mujahedeen poem, written by Maulai Muhibbulla al-Qandahari, who carried the pen and the sword and was known in the circles of scholars and the training camps and the battlefields of jihad," he said.

It was not immediately clear when the recording was made and whether it had any connection to the release of the Mr. bin Laden's recording on Thursday. There was no mention, either, of last week's missile attacks by the United States on a Pakistani village in the country's remote northeast, where Mr. Zawahiri was thought to be attending a dinner. Mr. Zawahiri appears not to have been present, but his son-in-law and two senior members of Al Qaeda are believed to have been among those killed, Pakistani officials said.

The attacks, which killed 18 civilians, including women and children, stirred anger across Pakistan, particularly in the autonomous tribal regions, and were condemned by the Pakistani government.

On Thursday, Mr. bin Laden broke a year's silence in a new recording on Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite television news channel, warning Americans that Al Qaeda was planning more attacks on the United States but also offering a "long truce" on undefined terms.

The C.I.A. verified the recording's authenticity, and officials reasoned that the release might have been timed to assure his followers that Mr. bin Laden was alive and well days after the American airstrikes.

In the tape, Mr. bin Laden addressed the American people directly, saying of his supporters, "Our situation is getting better while yours is getting worse."

Mr. bin Laden offered the American people a vague truce, saying "both sides can enjoy security and stability under this truce so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan."

Vice President Dick Cheney, speaking Thursday on Fox News, rejected the offer of a truce, saying: "We don't negotiate with terrorists. I think you have to destroy them."