DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri said U.S. President George W. Bush’s troop build-up in Iraq was a gamble bound to fail and criticised his Democrat rivals for not bringing any change in Washington’s policy.
“(Bush’s) addiction to gambling ... motivates him to continue to place losing bets until he goes completely bankrupt,” the U.S. private SITE Institute’s Web page quoted Zawahri as saying in an audio recording posted on the Internet.
“Were the Americans to leave him alone, he would continue to send their forces to Iraq until the mujahideen kill the last one of their soldiers.”
Bush has announced plans to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq to try to quell the unrelenting violence.
Democrats swept Republicans from power in Congress in November amid popular dissatisfaction with policies on Iraq.
The SITE Institute, a private U.S. organisation that tracks militant statements, posted a 6,600-word English-language transcript of Zawahri’s purported 41-minute Web recording. It was not immediately possible to authenticate the statement.
Zawahri criticised the Democrats for not forcing Republican Bush’s hand on Iraq.
“The people chose you (Democrats) due to your opposition to Bush’s policy in Iraq, but it appears that you are marching with him to the same abyss, and it appears that you will take part with him in the defeat,” Zawahri said.
Addressing the United States and Britain, the Egyptian militant cleric said: “With every delay you make in resorting to wise and realistic policies, your losses will increase.”
Zawahri said the people of nations that took part in wars against Muslim nations could not be “absolved” of blame because they supported the leaders who made the decision to fight.
“You are not facing individuals or organisations, but the jihadist uprising of the angry ... Muslim nation,” he said.
In his statement to mark the late January Islamic new year, Zawahri said one of the most important events of the past year had been an admission of failure by “the notorious liar” Bush.
The U.S.-allied governments of Iraq and Afghanistan should think about their fate after U.S. troops leave, he said.
“These traitors in Iraq and Afghanistan must face their inevitable fate, and face up to the inescapable facts. America ... is about to depart and abandon them, just as it abandoned their like in Vietnam,” he said.
“If the mujahideen have ... broken the back of America, will its agents hold their own against them in the absence of America? If tanks and planes were of no help to America, what, for the traitors, will take the place of the foreign aid and backing?”
He also vowed reprisals against Arab and Muslim countries that supported the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“As for the states which colluded with the crusaders in their invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, they must reap their bitter harvest.”
Zawahri called on all Muslims to unite under the banner of an Islamic state rather than be split in Arab and other states.
“I ask God ... to consolidate this state ... which will proceed to liberate Jerusalem,” he said.