Leaders have betrayed Islam, says Zawahiri

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 January, 2007, 12:00am

Al-Qaeda No2 Ayman al-Zawahiri has attacked the leaders of Egypt and the Palestinians, accusing them of betraying Islam and collaborating with the US and Israel, according to an internet statement published in his name yesterday.

Referring to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and a senior member of his Fatah party, Zawahiri asked: 'How is it possible for Mahmoud Abbas to be a brother of ours, or for Mohammed Dahlan to be a brother of ours when they have grown fat on the bribes of the Jews and gifts of the Americans?'

The statement congratulates Islamic holy warriors around the world at the start of the Eid ul-Adha festival on what he calls 'the defeat of the Americans and their crusader allies in Afghanistan and Iraq'.

Zawahiri accuses the Egyptian, Saudi Arabian and Yemeni governments of serving the interests of the US, saying that Washington 'bombs the Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq', and orders Arab leaders to pump their oil wells dry and sell crude petroleum 'at the cheapest of rates to consume the nation's treasure'.

The statement could not be authenticated but it appeared on two Islamic websites known for publishing militant material.

The statement made no mention of events in the past few days that have made headlines around the Arab world, such as the execution of Saddam Hussein on Saturday and the Ethiopian forces' entry into Mogadishu last week. In fact, the statement appears to be ignorant of the Supreme Islamic Courts Council fighters being driven out of Mogadishu by the Ethiopians.

'I also congratulate my Muslim brothers in Somalia and encourage them to be firm in defence of the honour of Islam and Muslims in East Africa,' it says.

Zawahiri tosses out insults to a bevy of leaders, making no effort to substantiate his allegations. He calls Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf a 'bribe-taker', Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak a 'traitor', Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh an 'agent of America', and he accuses The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman of being a 'fanatical Zionist'.