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Al-Qaida No. 2 praises al-Zarqawi in tape

In his most recent video, al-Qaeda’s Number Two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, focuses on the Palestinian government. He admonishes Hamas and other political elements for entering into politics. ?Palestine will never by liberated appealing for help from the East and the West, nor by political ploys, nor by recognizing the legitimacy of those who would sell?Palestine will be liberated?with the permission of God?by the blood of the martyrs, suffering of the prisoners, and jihad in the path of God,? says al-Zawahiri in a tape released in part on Al-Jazeera and then in full on Jihadist websites. On March 4, a message by Zawahiri was broadcast that was directed more exclusively to Hamas, warning the organization not to withhold peace or the ceasefire with Israel. This time, Zawahiri has bypassed Hamas somewhat, appealing directly to the Palestinian people to continue the Jihad, no matter what their politicians have done. These remarks take on a threatening undertone, with Zawahiri implying that if Hamas reduces its Jihadist operations in favor of playing games of politics, someone else, perhaps al-Qaeda , will have to pick up the mantle of Jihad in ?Palestine.? Zawahiri also discusses the Egyptian judges who have come to represent the reform movement in Egypt . In stark contrast from his words to the Palestinians, Zawahiri criticizes the judges for not engaging in as many acts of political protest as they should. ?You participated in the elections while you could have halted the farce by refraining from taking part in these elections, by refusing to endorse their results, and by issuing a report declaring that they were rigged and invalid?? Zawahiri says to the judges. He, then, criticizes them for not carrying out enough sit-in protests. ?Does any judge dare to demand staging a sit-in to protest against the absence of Sharia from the judiciary in Egypt, or to protest the presence of the US bases in Egypt, to protest against the movement of warships through the Suez Canal to strike Iraq, or to protest the entry [into Egypt] of Jews with visas to indulge in depravity in the Sinai?? It is possible that, seeing that the political opposition against the Mubarak regime is gaining some traction, Zawahiri is willing to endorse a political element to the fight against the regime. While Zawahiri criticizes some of the tactics of the judges, he also communicates limited support and gives them recognition. Seeing an opposition movement in Egypt exhibiting signs of limited success, Zawahiri is ready to co-opt or at least influence the campaign. Finally, Zawahiri echoes a previous warning by Bin Laden that ?Crusader? armies may be preparing to move into Darfur . Zawahiri?s comments indicate that he is watching for the slightest indication of movement into the area. He and Bin Laden are warning that Sudan may open as another battlefield in which Jihadists can attack and oppose invading ?Crusaders.? Any positioning of peacekeeping or humanitarian forces in Darfur is likely to be exploited by al-Qaeda, held up as evidence that the West is preparing to occupy yet another Muslim country.

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