Don’t expect him to get honored at an ADL dinner, but Al-Qaida’s second-in-command wants the world to know – Israel is not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Check out the report from the Associated Press:
Ayman al-Zawahri accused Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television of starting the rumor [about Israel]. “The purpose of this lie is clear (to suggest) that there are no heroes among the Sunnis who can hurt America as no else did in history. Iranian media snapped up this lie and repeated it,” he said.
In an audiotape last week, according to the AP report, the Al-Qaida leader had plenty of negative to say about the regime in Tehran:
Al-Zawahri denounced what he called Iran’s expansionist plans, saying Tehran aims to annex southern Iraq and Shiite areas of the eastern Arabian Peninsula as well as stre ngthen ties to its followers in southern Lebanon. He warned that if Iran achieves its goals, it will “explode the situation in an already exploding region.
The rhetoric is a stark change for al-Zawahri, who in the past did not seek to exploit Shiite-Sunni tensions. When the former head of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was waging a campaign of suicide bombings against Shiites in Iraq, al-Zawahri sent messages telling him to stop, fearing it would hurt al-Qaida’s image.
Gunaratna said the change in tone could be because of al-Qaida’s failure to win the release of al-Qaida figures detained by Iran since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, including al-Qaida security chief Saif al-Adel and two of bin Laden’s sons.
Gunaratna said that up to 200 al-Qaida figures and their families are under house arrest in Iran and that Tehran has rejected al-Qaida attempts to negotiate their release.
Al-Qaida doesn’t have the strength to launch attacks in Iran, but it intends to do so “in the future,” he said. “If al-Qaida becomes strong in Iraq … Iran believes al-Qaida in Iraq could become a major threat.”