Bin Laden Deputy Steps Up Denunciation Of Iran

Bin Laden Deputy Steps Up Denunciation Of Iran
April 23rd, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Bin Laden Deputy Steps Up Denunciation Of Iran

Bin Laden Deputy Steps Up Denunciation Of Iran
Baltimore Sun
April 23, 2008 Al-Zawahri accuses the Islamic republic of trying to undermine power of al-Qaida
By Associated Press
CAIRO, Egypt--Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader issued a new audiotape yesterday accusing Shiite Iran of spreading a conspiracy theory about who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks to discredit the power of the Sunni terrorist network.
Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's deputy, has stepped up his denunciations of Iran in recent messages in part to depict al-Qaida as the Arabs' top defense against the Persian nation's rising power in the Middle East.
The increasing enmity toward Iran is a notable change of rhetoric from al-Zawahri, who in the past rarely mentioned the country - apparently in hopes he would be able to forge some sort of understanding with Tehran based on their common rivalry with the United States. Iran has long sought to distance itself from al-Qaida.
"Al-Zawahri wanted to work with Iran, but he's deeply disappointed that Iran has not cooperated with al-Qaida," said Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert and author of Inside al-Qaida: The Global Network of Terror.
So now, al-Zawahri "wants to appeal to the anti-Shiite, anti-Iran sentiments in the Arab and Muslim world," said Gunaratna, head of the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore.
Al-Zawahri appeared intent on exploiting widespread worry in the Arab world over Iran's influence, particularly in Iraq, to garner support for al-Qaida. At the same time, he sought to denigrate Iran's ally Hezbollah, which has gained some popularity even among Sunnis in the region for its fight against Israel.
Al-Zawahri's comments came in a two-hour audio posted on an Islamic militant Web site, the second message in weeks in which he answered hundreds of questions sent to the site by al-Qaida sympathizers and others.
The question-and-answer campaign is a sign of the terrorist network's sophistication in its use of the Web. It shows al-Qaida can post frequent messages from its leaders while keeping in touch with its popular base - all while the leaders remain in hiding, presumably on the Afghan-Pakistan frontier.
The Web is a key tool of al-Qaida's central leadership to inspire and direct sympathizers at a time when some terrorism experts question how much control it has over Islamic militants. Al-Qaida branches in Iraq and Afghanistan are believed to have close ties with the network's core, but little is known about its level of control elsewhere.
The authenticity of the audio could not be independently confirmed. But the voice sounded like past audios from al-Zawahri, and the posting where it was found bore the logo of Al-Sahab, al-Qaida's media arm.
Al-Zawahri spoke on a wide range of topics in yesterday's message. He even addressed global warming, saying it showed "how criminal, brutal and greedy the Western Crusader world is, with America at the top."
But in many of his answers, al-Zawahri went out of his way to criticize Iran. He said the Iraqi insurgent umbrella group led by al-Qaida, called the Islamic State of Iraq, is "the primary force opposing the Crusaders [the United States] and challenging Iranian ambitions" in Iraq.
One questioner asked about the theory that has circulated in the Middle East and elsewhere that Israel was behind the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Al-Zawahri accused Hezbollah's Al-Manar television of starting the rumor. "The purpose of this lie is clear - [to suggest] that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no else did in history. Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it," he said.
"Iran's aim here is also clear - to cover up its involvement with America in invading the homes of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq," he added. Iran cooperated with the United States in the 2001 U.S. assault on Afghanistan that toppled al-Qaida's allies, the Taliban.
Al-Qaida has previously claimed responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks.
In an audiotape last week, al-Zawahri denounced what he called Iran's expansionist plans, saying Tehran aims to annex southern Iraq and Shiite areas of the eastern Arabian Peninsula as well as strengthen ties to its followers in southern Lebanon. He warned that if Iran achieves its goals, it will "explode the situation in an already exploding region."
The rhetoric is a stark change for al-Zawahri, who in the past did not seek to exploit Shiite-Sunni tensions.

Similar Topics
Target: Bin Laden
Out Of Guantanamo And Bitter Toward Bin Laden
Saddam's Dangerous Friends
Officials Doubt Bin Laden Death Report
What If Iran Gets the Bomb? Good Analysis