DUBAI: Al-Qaeda number two Ayman Al-Zawahri slammed Arab leaders as "Zionists" who are helping Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip, in his first message since December posted online Monday.
He also mocked US President Barack Obama for saying that the Taliban will not gain power in Afghanistan, hailing at the same time, the "victory" of the militant group against coalition forces.
"These Arab Zionists are more dangerous than Jewish Zionists," Zawahri said in the audiotape posted on an Islamist website that stated the message was produced by Al-Qaeda’s Al-Fajr media arm.
He hit out at Egypt in particular for planning to build an underground metal fence with Gaza to curb cross-border smuggling — the only lifeline for the Hamas-run enclave amid Israel’s blockade.
"Who is besieging our people in Gaza and is surrounding them with an underground metal fence? Is he not the chief of Arab Zionists (Egyptian President) Hosni Mubarak?" he charged.
"This metal fence is a shame for the people of Egypt who let the chief of Arab Zionists besiege their brothers," in Gaza, he added.
He went on to accuse Jordan’s king Abdullah II, Saudi King Abdullah and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas of being "Zionists."
"Who is providing his intelligence service to serve US intelligence and (Israel’s) Mossad? Is he not the heir of traitors, Abdullah, the son of (late King) Hussein" of Jordan, he said.
"And who is aiding Mossad to kill the Mujahedeen (holy warriors) and capture them? Is he not the Arab Zionist Mahmoud Abbas?," he charged.
"And who presented an initiative (for Middle East peace), following the directions of Jewish (US journalist) Thomas Friedman, and organized an inter-faith dialogue conference where he shook hands with (Israeli President Shimon) Peres? Is he not the Arab Zionist Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz?," he added.
He slammed Arab leaders collectively for backing the Saudi-drafted peace initiative, which was first presented in 2002, offering Israel full recognition in return for its withdrawal from the occupied territories and a just settlement for refugees.
"Who were those who agreed collectively to hand most of Palestine to the Jews, and said that the refugees issue can only be settled in arrangements with the Jews?
"Were they not the Arab rulers in their shameful initiative," he asked.
Zawahri, who has a US bounty of $25 million on his head, resurfaced last in December, when he criticized Obama’s Middle East policy, charging it was "humiliating" for Muslims and a "new stage in the Crusader and Zionist campaign."
In his new tape, he also lashed out at Obama.
"Poor Obama comes to Kabul pledging that Taliban will not return to power … Poor you, can you promise that your herds (of soldiers) will return safe to America?," he charged.
"You threaten the Taliban, you are just a puppet of the tyrants … We will see who will not return to Kabul because he will flee it hastily in fear."
"Obama, whether you admit it or not, Muslims have defeated you in Iraq and Afghanistan and will defeat you in Palestine, Somalia and the Islamic Maghreb," he added.
He hailed Taliban’s military action against coalition forces in the south of Afghanistan, congratulating its leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, on his "steadfastness" and vowing allegiance to him as "the leader of the believers."
"Congratulations to the Muslim Ummah (nation) … and to the leader of the believers, the patient mujahed, Mulla Umar … the imminent victory," he said.
"Before that, congratulations on your steadfastness against infidels and tyranny," he added.
"We renew our vow of allegiance to you … on the path of jihad (holy war) in the name of Allah," he said.