Al-Qaida leader threatens more attacks on West

In video, London bomber calls himself soldier, al-Zawahri gives warning

September 02, 2005|By Todd Richissin | Todd Richissin,SUN FOREIGN STAFF

LONDON - After weeks of speculation about al-Qaida ties to the London bombings on July 7, a video emerged yesterday of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant and of a British Muslim who blew himself up in the attacks. In the video, the bomber proclaimed himself a soldier of Islam while the al-Qaida lieutenant warned of attacks to come.

The tape was the first solid indication of al-Qaida ties to the London attacks, which killed 52 commuters and the four bombers.

It was released to Al-Jazeera and was later aired by the British Broadcasting Corp.

"We are at war, and I am a soldier," bomber Mohammad Sidique Khan said calmly in a distinct Yorkshire accent, emphasizing certain points with a gentle jab of a pen he held in his right hand.

"Now you will taste the reality of this situation."

`More catastrophes'

Also on the video, al-Qaida's No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, who is thought to be hiding along the Afghan-Pakistani border, threatened the West with "more catastrophes" in retaliation for the policies of President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

He stopped short of saying al-Qaida carried out the London bombings but said they were a direct response to British foreign policy and its rejection of a truce that al-Qaida offered Europe in April 2004.

"I talk to you today about the blessed London battle which came as a slap to the face of the tyrannical, crusader British arrogance," al-Zawahri said in a translation provided by the BBC.

"It's a sip from the glass that the Muslims have been drinking from."

Investigators have said Khan, 30, whose political views went undetected while he worked as a teacher's aide in the English city of Leeds, exploded his bomb on the Edgware Road Circle Line, killing six people and injuring more than 100.

Unlikely militant

In the video he wore a red-and-white checked kaffiyeh and a dark, hooded jacket. He had a trimmed beard and appeared to be sitting against a wall lined with an ornate carpet. The date and location of the recording were unknown.

Khan had been considered the most unlikely of the four July 7 bombers, who attacked three subway trains and a double-decker bus.

He was 30, by far the oldest of the attackers, and students and their parents whom Khan helped had spoken highly of his dedication as a teacher.

After the bombings, though, Pakistani officials confirmed that he had traveled to the country last year with another of the attackers and had spent three months there.

In yesterday's video he seemed well aware of the carnage he would soon create.

Al-Zawahri appeared on the tape in a black turban and white robes with an automatic weapon leaning against the wall beside him.

Mimicking the words of President Bush - who has said the war in Iraq is being fought there so that the fight against terrorists would not occur on U.S. soil - al-Zawahri claimed the July 7 attacks were part of that same battle, but on Western land.

"This blessed battle has transferred - like its glorious predecessors in New York, Washington and Madrid - the battle to the enemies' land, after many centuries of the battle being on our land and after troops have occupied our land in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine."

It was unknown how or when the tape was put together, but Al-Jazeera's newscaster said the al-Zawahri tape contained the recording of Khan.

Responsibility

"Your democratically elected governments continuously perpetuate injustice against my people all over the world, and your support of them makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters," Khan said.

Two U.S. officials, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the message's sensitive nature, said any claim of responsibility does not necessarily indicate that al-Qaida planned or directed the attack.

No safety

On the tape, Khan says the attacks were the fault of "Western citizens" and the public should no longer feel safe because they would be targeted again.

"Our words are dead until we give them life with our blood. I and thousands like me have forsaken everything for what we believe," he said.

"Until we feel security, you will be our targets. Until you stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people, we will not stop this fight."

Scotland Yard has confirmed it is aware of the tape.

The Foreign Office has said it will not comment on any aspects of the video.

The July 7 attacks were followed two weeks later by four failed bombings, also on three subway trains and a city bus.

All four suspects in those attempts have been arrested, but investigators have released no information connecting them directly to the earlier attacks.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.