NEW YORK (Reuters) - Al Qaeda’s No. 2 commander appeared on Wednesday in a new video on a Web site used by Islamist militant groups, urging unity in jihad and calling for the overthrow of “corrupt” Muslim governments in the region.
The English version of the title posted on the site was “The Advice of One Concerned” and the video showed the Egyptian cleric Ayman al-Zawahri wearing a white robe, speaking in Arabic with English sub-titles.
The U.S.-based SITE Institute, which monitors Islamist Web sites, released a transcript that appeared to match the 95-minute video produced by al Qaeda’s media arm as-Sahab and monitored on the Internet by Reuters in Dubai.
Zawahri expounded at length in the video on what he calls the corruption of the Saudi Arabian royal family, condemned Palestinian concessions to Israel and criticized the Egyptian government as an ally of the United States.
The video was edited in a sophisticated way, incorporating clips from al Jazeera, U.S. public television and other international news stations. At one point it invokes evidence from American journalist Bob Woodward’s book on Iraq, “Plan of Attack.”
It was unclear when Zawahri was speaking, but the video said it was produced in the Muslim lunar month which corresponds to mid-June to mid-July.
Zawahri lashed out at those who did not accept the “Islamic State of Iraq,” and said that it was crucial to the revival of an Islamic Caliphate.
U.S. commanders say tribal leaders are increasingly turning against al Qaeda, but Zawahri said there was growing support from the Iraqi people. “Today, the wind — grace of Allah — is blowing against Washington,” he said.
In the transcript, Zawahri called for unity in Iraq. “The Mujahideen of Islam in Iraq of the Caliphate and Jihad are advancing with steady steps toward victory....” he said.
“The first thing which our beloved brothers in Iraq must realize is the critical nature of unity,” he said, calling on all Muslims to support the fight there and elsewhere.
He said the “long-term” plan for the movement consisted of fighting to change “corrupt and corruptive regimes” and “hurrying to the fields of jihad like Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia for jihadi preparation and training.”
In another similar passage he also mentioned north Africa, scene of recent attacks claimed by al Qaeda.
He said there was no “single recipe for change” but that “force must be an element in the pursuit of change,” whether through a military coup, a popular uprising or civil disobedience against corrupt governments.
Additional reporting by Inal Ersan in Dubai