Innocent people killed in US strike: Zawahri

January 31, 2006

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DUBAI, Jan 30: Al Qaeda’s deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri blasted US President George W. Bush as a “butcher” in a video tape aired on Monday, saying a recent US air strike targeting him had killed only innocent people.

In the tape aired by Al Jazeera television on Monday, Zawahri, also mentioned a truce which the Al Qaeda leader had offered the United States in an audio tape aired earlier this month.

“US warplanes have launched a raid ... on a village near Peshawar just after the Eidul Azha in which 18 Muslim men, women and children were killed in their (US) fight against jihad which they call terrorism,” he said, referring to the January air strike in Pakistan.

“They said this was intended to kill myself and four of my brothers but now the whole world has discovered the US lies and their failure and brutality,” Zawahri added.

“I will meet my fate (death) as set by God the Almighty but if my time did not come you (US President George W.) Bush or all the powers on earth ... cannot bring it one second closer.”

Zawahri began the tape by saying “my first message is to the butcher Bush”.

The US State Department said it was analysing the tape for its authenticity, but downplayed its significance as it continues to battle Al Qaeda after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

“Whatever the status of Zawahri there continues to be a determined Al Qaeda effort to destroy peace and innocent lives,” State Department spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters.

Zawahri appeared in the video dressed in white and speaking directly to the camera in front of a black background. The video carried English subtitles.

RECENT RECORDING: Another US official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the tape appeared to be an authentic recent recording from Zawahri.

Al Jazeera editors were not immediately available to comment on the tape.

In this latest video, he again blasted the United States for saying it was gaining the upper hand against militants and said Americans would be defeated “at home”.

Addressing the American people, Zawahri said Osama had offered Bush an “honourable exit” from Iraq but “your leaders’s answer was that they do not negotiate with terrorists and that they are winning the war against terrorism”.—Reuters