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Zawahiri mocks new US plan for Iraq

The Al-Qaeda deputy leader asks US president to send his 'entire army' to Iraq in a fresh videotape.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2007 14:19 IST

Al-Qaeda's deputy leader mocked United States President George W Bush's plan to send 21,000 more troops to Iraq, challenging him to send "the entire army" and vowing insurgents will defeat them in a new videotape, a US group that tracks Al-Qaeda messages said.

The Washington-based SITE Institute said it had intercepted the video from Ayman al-Zawahri, which had not yet been posted on Islamic militant websites, where his messages are usually posted.

SITE did not elaborate on how it received the message.

Al-Zawahri said the US strategy for Iraq, outlined by Bush in a January nine speech, was doomed to fail.

"I ask him, why send 20,000 (troops) only - why not send 50 or 100 thousand? Aren't you aware that the dogs of Iraq are pining for your troops' dead bodies?" al-Zawahri said in an excerpt of the video released by SITE on Monday.

"So send your entire army to be annihilated at the hands of the mujahideen (holy warriors) to free the world from your evil," he said, "because Iraq, land of the Caliphate and Jihad, is able to bury ten armies like yours, with Allah's help and power."

The video showed al-Zawahri, wearing a white turban, in front of a black backdrop.

The message was the first reaction from Al-Qaeda's leadership to the new Iraq strategy.

The US has said the extra troops aim to crack down on Al-Qaeda fighters and other Sunni Arab insurgents in Iraq, as well as Shiite militiamen blamed in the country's spiralling sectarian violence.

First Published: Jan 23, 2007 11:14 IST