Al Zawahri Shows His Softer Side

A new tape from al Qaeda's No. 2 Ayman al Zawahri takes a distinctly less threatening tone and may reflect an attitude that victory in Iraq and Afghanistan is near.

The portions of the tape aired today by al Jazeera Television contain no threats towards the West. Instead, al Zawahri focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and talks about the rules for establishment of an Islamic state. "It should not be imagined that Muslims can form a government in Palestine or elsewhere that has anything other than the Shari'a [Islamic law] as its jurisdiction. Its point of authority must be nothing except the Shari'a."

Al  Zawahiri also stresses that "jihad" is the only way to achieve their goals. "Any path other than jihad will lead us only to losing direction and loss."


The tape comes at a time when the Islamist militants have claimed they are winning their battle with the West because of the situation in Iraq and the increasing attacks in Afghanistan.

Al Zawahri's July 2005 letter to the former leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musaab al Zarqawi, shows how much he believed in the dream of establishing an Islamic state. Now, after the insurgents in Iraq declared the establishment of "the Islamic State of Iraq" and have been issuing statements and videos in the name of its "information ministry,"  there's a feeling amongst supporters of militants on Islamist websites that "jihad" has entered a new stage and that they need to start planning accordingly. It seems that al Zawahri's message reflects that atmosphere and is therefore less hostile. Al Qaeda's statements seem to be most aggressive when the group feels they're weak, which does not seem to be the case at the moment.

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The entire tape entitled "the truths about the clash between Islam and atheism" is expected to be released on militant forums soon.

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