Al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri has purportedly said that a Libyan group has joined the militant organization and is being urged to attack U.S., Spanish and French interests in North Africa.
In a 28-minute videodistributed on the internet Saturday, an audio recording of amanidentified as al-Zawahri can be heard announcing thatthe Libyan Islamic Fighting Group is now part of the al-Qaeda network.
The man also says the group should overthrow leaders of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco who support "the American war on terror."
"Your good sons are gathering under Islam and jihad's banner against America, France, Spain and their people.… Oh, nation of jihad, support your sons so that we defeat our enemies and rid our homeland of their slaves," says the voice on the recording,the authenticity of which could not be verified.
It mentions Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the Fatah leader prepares for a U.S.-sponsored international peace meeting on the Middle East. The conference is supposed to be held sometime before year's end, butno firm date has been announced. "I call on those among the members of Fatah and the [Fatah-linked armed] Al-Aqsa Brigades who still have a little dignity to fight their leadership, which has transformed their movement into an annex of the CIA and a division of Mossad," the man said, referring to the American andIsraeli intelligence services.
He said Fatah members should "return to their religion and rally to the support of their brothers, the mujahedeen [fighters], in Palestine and elsewhere in the Muslim world."
The video includes several minutes of footage depicting the leader of the Libyan group, Abu Laith Al-Libi, leading militants in training exercises, according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group.
SITE (Search for International Terrorist Entities),a private company thatcompiles information on militant groups,says thevideo features both al-Zawahri and Abu Laith Al-Libi speaking. The group says the video uses a still shot of al-Zawahri taken in May.And it saysAbu Laith speaks over a still image of himself, as well as footage of his leading mujahedeen in training.
"We proclaim our alliance with the al-Qaeda network… to become the faithful soldiers" of Osama bin Laden, said a man SITE identified asAbu Laith, who can be heard as part of the same recording.
Al-Zawahri is bin Laden's lieutenant and has released other videotapes calling for a holy war against the United States and its allies. Like bin Laden, the Egyptian national has eluded capture since the Taliban government, which was sheltering the al-Qaeda leadership, was overthrown in Afghanistan in 2001.