DUBAI (AFP) — Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri has launched a vitriolic attack on Iran, accusing it in a video message broadcast by Al-Jazeera on Monday of collaborating with Washington in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Qatar-based satellite television station said the video, more than an hour and a half long, was entitled "Seven Years of Crusades," and was made to mark the seventh anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Several others said to be Al-Qaeda leaders also featured in the video.
"The leadership in Tehran is collaborating with the Americans in their occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan," Zawahiri said in the extract broadcast by the channel.
"It recognises the subservient (to Washington) governments of these two countries, while at the same time pledging death and destruction to any state which dares touch Iranian soil," added the Egyptian deputy to Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Neither Washington nor Israel has ruled out a military strike against Iran because of its nuclear ambitions, which the West fears may be weapons-related rather than peaceful.
Zawahiri cited an example of what he called collusion between Shiite religious leaders and the Americans.
"There was been no fatwa (religious edict) from Iran or Iraq calling for jihad in Iraq or Afghanistan," while there have been many issued on Lebanon and the Palestinians.
"Has waging jihad become acceptable in Lebanon and in Palestine but not in Iraq and Afghanistan?" Zawahiri asked in the broadcast.
He also slammed the Shiite Hezbollah opposition in Lebanon, as well as taking a swipe at the country's Sunni Muslim leadership.
"What victory is Hezbollah talking about?" he asked of the 2006 summer war with Israel, saying that the group had lost control of south Lebanon and allowed "thousands of crusaders" -- a reference to UN peacekeepers -- in there instead.
He dismissed the country's Sunni leaders in Beirut as "agents" of the United States.
Abu Yazid al-Masri, presented in the video as the Al-Qaeda number three, hailed the resignation in Pakistan of former president Pervez Musharraf.
"Thanks be to God for humiliating Musharraf for betraying the Islamic emirate in Afghanistan," said the militant whom unconfirmed reports had said was killed in Afghanistan last month.
On Iraq, the video also featured what it said was a jihadist sheikh called Attiyat al-Allah, who said the US-backed and -paid Sunni "Awakening" groups of anti-Qaeda fighters called Sahwa were "in the process of being frayed."
A leader of Al-Qaeda's north African branch, whose name was given as Abu Mussab Mohammed al-Wadud, was shown accusing Washington of "setting up bases in southern Algeria and pillaging that nation's riches."
The Al-Qaeda video also denounced Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying it was being pursued with "the complicity of Arab countries."
Abu Yahya al-Libi, one of four Al-Qaeda escapees from Afghanistan's Bagram prison in July 2005, praised what he called the network's victories and the resistance of Chechen fighters against Russian forces in the Caucasus.
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