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Al-Qaida Deputy Says US Talking to Wrong People in Iraq


Al-Qaida's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, has vowed continued terrorist attacks and says the United States is negotiating with the wrong people in its quest to end the violence in Iraq. In excerpts of a videotape broadcast on al-Jazeera television, Zawahri also said that elections will not free Palestinian land from Israeli occupation. VOA Correspondent Challiss McDonough has more from our Middle East bureau in Cairo.

In the latest tape broadcast on the al-Jazeera satellite network, Ayman al-Zawahri said the al-Qaida network will continue to attack the United States as long as it feels Muslim countries remain under attack from the U.S.

He also mocked U.S. efforts to end the violence in Iraq, saying the Americans are talking to the wrong people.

He said that Republicans and the Democrats together are attempting, in fear, to find an exit from the crises in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said U.S. leaders are trying to negotiate with some parties to secure the safe departure of troops from Iraq. But, he said, these parties will not find an exit, and the attempts will yield nothing but failure. He added that the U.S. will undertake a painful journey of failed negotiations before being forced to go back to negotiation with the real powers in the Islamic world, apparently referring to al-Qaida.

The State Department has designated al-Qaida a terrorist organization.

In the tape, the Egyptian-born al-Zawahri criticized a number of Middle Eastern groups and individuals, including the Western-backed governments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and both the major Palestinian factions.

He called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas America's man and said accepting him as the Palestinian president would be the end of jihad, a Koranic term meaning struggle, but sometimes interpreted as holy war.

Without actually naming Hamas, he accused it of making concessions that would ultimately lead to the recognition of Israel. He said the group should have insisted on drafting an Islamic constitution before participating in Palestinian elections.

"Any road other than Jihad will lead us nowhere but to failure and loss," he said. "Those who try to free Islamic land through elections based on secular constitutions or resolutions to hand over Palestine to the Jews will not liberate a grain of sand of Palestine."

Analysts say Zawahri's statement is not likely to have much impact in the Palestinian territories, where the Islamist party Hamas has repeatedly distanced itself from al-Qaida and rejected the group's ideology of a struggle between Islam and the West. Hamas says its struggle is against Israel alone.

The videotape broadcast on al-Jazeera bore the logo of al-Qaida's media production group. Zawahri wore a black turban and white robe, and looked just as he had in previous videos. The tape is the 15th statement issued by Zawahri this year.

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