Last Updated: Thu Mar 01, 2012 07:58 am (KSA) 04:58 am (GMT)

Al-Qaeda leader says U.S. defense cuts, talks with the Taliban signal weakness

Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaeda’s leader, said in a 24-minute audio recorded online message that the U.S. “military arrogance” had brought it nothing but losses. (File Photo)
Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaeda’s leader, said in a 24-minute audio recorded online message that the U.S. “military arrogance” had brought it nothing but losses. (File Photo)

Al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahri said U.S. decisions to cut its defense budget and engage with the Afghan Taliban were signals of a decline in Washington’s power, in a message posted on the Internet on
Wednesday.

Zawahri, who took up the reins of Qaeda after the killing of Osama bin Laden last year, also said popular uprisings that have convulsed the Arab world since last year were overwhelmingly Islamist in motive.

“One of the latest signs of its shrinking (power) is the reduction in the U.S. Department of Defense's budget,” said Zawahri in the 24-minute audio recording posted on Islamist websites, adding “military arrogance” had brought it nothing but losses.

U.S. President Barack Obama in mid-February unveiled a defense budget for 2013 that proposed cuts in Pentagon spending for the first time since 1998, slashing military personnel costs and weapons purchases.

“The biggest factor that forced America to reduce its defense budget is Allah’s help to the mujahideen to harm the evil empire of our time,” he said, referring to those who fight holy war.

Zawahri said U.S. overtures to the Afghan Taliban, with which it has made “exploratory” contacts for possible reconciliation, according to an Afghan diplomat, was further evidence of its defeat.

Uprising

“America ... is about to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, and then not only accept, but insist upon requesting negotiations with the Islamic Emirate (Afghan Taliban), which it used to consider as a terrorist group that must be annihilated,” Zawahri said.

In the recording was the ninth in a series of messages which have also dealt with political developments in Egypt.

Zawahri said despite the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak last year, his “corrupt regime” would remain in place until the country imposed Islamic law, stopped answering to the United States and cancelled its peace treaty with Israel.

“The popular Arab uprisings have proved they are mainly Islamic in orientation and have sparked a revolution against the mercenaries of America,” said Zawahri in the recording, entitled “So Why Did We Revolt Against Him?”
Banned under Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood today holds more than 43 percent of the seats in the Egyptian parliament, having won more than any other party in the country's most democratic election in six decades.

“Egypt is not a free trade zone, nor an agent for America nor a middleman for Israel nor a tourist resort. It is the citadel of Islam. The fortress of pan-Arabism; the land of garrison, jihad, knowledge, and preaching” said Zawahri, himself an Egyptian.

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