Al-Qaida's No 2 leader paid tribute to the slain Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a video on Friday, extolling him as "the prince of martyrs" despite the rocky relationship that the terrorist leader in Iraq had with the al-Qaida command. The video, aired on the Qatari-based TV channel
was the first acknowledgment by al-Qaida's central leadership of the death of al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US air-strike northeast of Baghdad on June 7.
The clip showed al-Qaida's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri, wearing a white robe and black turban, speaking to the camera with a picture of a smiling al-Zarqawi over his left shoulder. Al-Zarqawi was "a soldier, a hero, an iman (Islamic cleric) and the prince of martyrs," al-Zawahri said.
Al-Zawahri did not mention the successor to al-Zarqawi, which al-Qaida in Iraq has named as Abu Hamza al-Muhajer. The omission might mean the tape was recorded before the successor was chosen, or it might indicate that al-Zawahri does not endorse the new leader. Al-Zawahri, who is believed to be hiding in the mountains on the Pakistani-Afghan border, lashed out at the United States, telling Americans: "You are not facing individuals but the whole of the Muslim nation."
"America will not dream in security until security has become a reality in Palestine and the other Muslim countries," al-Zawahri said.
He attacked the US ambassador to Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, who was born in Afghanistan.
Khalilzad is "an Afghani renegade who has abandoned his religion, emigrated to America and bowed at the feet of the Zionists," al-Zawahri said.