Al Qaeda’s acting leader, Ayman Al Zawahiri, has urged, in a video footage on the web, On Monday 02/23/2009,  Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip to reject Arab pressure for a truce with Israel (see also – .Footage 08.11.08 ).

Ayman Al-Zawahri vowed to support fighting against Israel and called for Muslims in Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia to continue battling the “crusaders” in a recording posted on the internet on Monday.

“Israel’s Arab aides are trying to impose a calm [truce] on the people of Gaza to stop their jihad … I tell our brothers and folk in Gaza that jihad to liberate Palestine and all Islamic land should not stop,” al-Zawahri said. “I reaffirm to our brothers the fighters in Gaza and everywhere that the mujahideen against ‘crusaders’ in various battle zones are willing to give their brothers in Gaza and everywhere training and preparation,” al-Zawahri added. AlQaeda often uses the term “crusaders” to refer to the West.

Al-Qaeda has begun to place greater emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – an issue many Arabs and Muslims are intensely mindful of – in an apparent effort to widen its support and influence there. But intelligence officials see little evidence Al Qaeda has established a presence in Palestinian areas (see also – Audio 01.06.09 ).

Al Qaeda has in the past criticized Hamas for dropping suicide bombings to play a political role.Without naming Hamas, al-Zawahri advised the group against joining with non-Islamist factions under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), which is led by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

In his recording, titled “From Kabul to Mogadishu”, Al Zawahri also called for Afghans to rally around Taliban fighters, for Yemeni tribes to fight USA influence and for Somalis to reject any possibility of a “secular constitution”.

Earlier in the month, Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, Somalia’s new president, selected the Western-educated son of a murdered former leader to be prime minister in a power-sharing government intended to end civil conflict in the country (see –  Square-One ).


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