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Bin Laden Aide Says U.S. Is in for Defeat

Ayman Zawahiri claims in a new tape that American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are refusing to fight the mujahedin.

September 10, 2004|From Times Wire Reports

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Ayman Zawahiri, the No. 2 figure in the Al Qaeda terrorist network, said in a new videotape Thursday that U.S. forces were stuck in a quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"In both countries, if they continue they will bleed to death and if they withdraw they lose everything," said Zawahiri, whose comments were broadcast by the Al Jazeera satellite television channel.

"The enemy are limited to their capitals," the Egyptian-born Zawahiri said.

"The Americans are hiding in their trenches and refuse to come out to face the mujahedin [fighters], as the mujahedin shell and fire on them, and cut roads off around them. Their defense is only to bomb by air, wasting U.S. money as they kick up dust."

He also said, "The defeat of America in Iraq and Afghanistan has become just a matter of time."

U.S. forces face fierce resistance in parts of Afghanistan and across Iraq, but military commanders insist that they have the upper hand against insurgents in both countries.

A U.S. government source scoffed at Zawahiri's comments. "These guys are in hiding too, and that's what they do ... hide and then kill innocent men, women and children," the source said.

Al Jazeera did not say how it obtained the tape. But it said Zawahiri had referred to the Darfur conflict in Sudan, suggesting that the tape was made recently.

The broadcast appeared to be part of a longer message. Al Jazeera said that elsewhere on the tape Zawahiri asserted that "the age of security has passed for Americans ... until they stop their crimes against Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine."

Zawahiri, bearded and wearing a white turban, looked much as he has in previous videotapes. An automatic weapon leaned against the wall behind him.

A U.S. intelligence official said the tape followed a pattern of Al Qaeda releasing a tape shortly before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

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