Al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader on Thursday warned that the terrorist group would not stand idly by while "these (Israeli) shells burn our brothers" in Lebanon and Gaza.
In a taped message broadcast by al-Jazeera television, Ayman al-Zawahri, second in command to Osama bin Laden, said al-Qaeda now saw "all the world as a battlefield open in front of us." The Egyptian-born physician said the Hizbullah and Palestinian fighting against Israel would not be ended with "ceasefires or agreements."
Al-Zawahri: Muslims everywhere must rise up (Photo: AP)
"The war with Israel does not depend on ceasefires ... . It is a Jihad for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... From Spain to Iraq," Al-Zawahri said. "We will attack everywhere." Spain was controlled by Arab Muslims until they were driven from the country at the turn of the 16th century.
A picture of the burning World Trade Center was on the wall behind him along with photos of two other militants. One appeared to be a bearded Mohammed Atta, the Egyptian ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks. The other was Mohammed Atef, also known as Abu Hafs al-Masri, a former top lieutenant of bin Laden who was killed in a US airstrike in Afghanistan in November 2001.
Al-Qaeda broadcasts are thought to contain coded messages to members. Three of images on the screen - that of al-Zawahri and the pictures of al-Masri and what was believed to be Atta - were Egyptian. The Arab satellite broadcaster did not transmit the entire tape, using instead selected quotes interspersed with commentary from an anchor.
"The shells and rockets ripping apart Muslim bodies in Gaza and Lebanon are not only Israeli (weapons), but are supplied by all the countries of the crusader coalition. Therefore, every participant in the crime will pay the price," Al-Zawahri said.
Al-Zawahri said Muslims everywhere must rise up to attack "crusaders and Zionists... and support jihad everywhere...until American troops are chased from Afghanistan and Iraq, paralyzed and impotent...having paid the price for aggression against Muslims and support for Israel."