Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant in the Al Qaeda terrorist network, said in a new video that he hoped US forces would stay in Iraq long enough to be dealt a catastrophic blow.
In the video aired Saturday, Zawahiri reacts to the legislation passed by the US Congress in late April to force a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq starting in October and concluding by early 2008.
US President George W Bush vetoed the legislation, which would have authorised several months of spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A compromise has yet to be reached in Washington between Bush and opposition Democrats, who took over Congress in January.
Zawahiri said that the legislation "reflects American failure and frustration".
He lamented that it would "deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces, which we have caught in a historic trap".
"We ask Allah that they only get out of it after losing 200,000 to 300,000 troops ... in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson, which will motivate them to review their entire doctrinal and moral system which produced their historic, criminal Crusader-Zionist entity," Zawahiri said.
The US has lost over 3,000 soldiers in action in Iraq, and currently has about 160,000 forces in the war-torn country.
The Washington-based IntelCenter, a private organisation that tracks the releases of Al Qaeda recordings, estimated that the latest video of more than 60 minutes could not have been made before April 26.