DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri said a truce offered to the last U.S. administration was still on the table, but President Barack Obama must withdraw troops from Muslim lands and meet other demands.
“If Obama wants to (reach) an understanding then he should respond to Sheikh Osama (bin Laden’s) two offers,” Zawahri said in an interview with al Qaeda’s media arm As-sahab, posted on an Islamist website on Monday.
Zawahri warned that militants would continue to fight “until doomsday” unless their conditions were met. “The minimum the mujahideen would accept (includes) ... the exit of infidel troops from all of the land of Islam and an end to stealing Muslims’ wealth under the threat of military power.”
Zawahri said the conditions also include that Western countries stop backing “corrupt and apostate regimes in the Muslim world” and the release of all detained Muslims.
The “fair offers” bin Laden had made to the United States and European nations were meant “for them to stop their aggression against Muslims and start a relationship that is based on interests instead of oppression and looting,” said the Egyptian militant in the 90-minute interview.
“(But) they insist that the relationship should be based on oppressing us and doing us injustice,” he said.
Bin Laden said in 2006 “we do not mind offering a long-term truce based on just conditions that we will stand by ... a truce which offers security and stability and the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan which war has destroyed.”
The United States at the time dismissed the offer, saying it “does not negotiate with terrorists.”
Zawahri criticized Obama’s effort to ease tensions with Muslims aggravated by predecessor George W. Bush, who waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003.
“He is like a wolf whose fangs are ripping through your (Muslims) flesh and his claws grabbing your face and both are dripping with your blood, then he says stop your defense because he wants peace with you.”
“Obama is trying to sell illusions to the ... weak,” Zawahri said of Obama’s drive. “He is trying to say do not hate us .... but we will continue to kill you...”
Zawahri attributed the change from the language of former U.S. President George W. Bush to the “victories” of the Islamist fighters.
He also said Obama was backing Israel at the expense of Palestinians and said the Jewish state should be wiped off the map. “Israel is a crime that should be removed.”
Zawahri said Obama’s policy over Israeli-Palestinian issues that was bound to end in failure for the Palestinians.
Al Qaeda has no recognizable presence in Israel, or in the Palestinian Territories which are dominated by the Islamist group Hamas and the secular Fatah movement led by U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Editing by Dominic Evans