DUBAI - Al Qaeda has called on US President George Bush and non-Muslims especially in the United States to convert to Islam and abandon their 'misguided' ways or else suffer the consequences, according to a video posted on a website overnight (NZ time).
The speaker was identified as Azzam the American, also known as Adam Yahiye Gadahn - an Islamic convert from California wanted for questioning by the FBI and who US authorities believe to be involved in a "propaganda" campaign for al Qaeda.
"If the Zionist crusader missionaries of hate and counter-Islam consultants like ... the crusader and chief George W Bush were to abandon their unbelief and repent and enter into the light of Islam and turn their swords against the enemies of God, it would be accepted of them and they would be our brothers in Islam," Gadahn said in English.
"To Americans and the rest of Christendom we say, either repent (your) misguided ways and enter into the light of truth or keep your poison to yourself and suffer the consequences in this world and the next."
Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri made a brief statement at the start of the tape urging viewers to listen carefully to the message, entitled: "An Invitation to Islam".
"Our brother Azzam the American is speaking to you out of pity for the fate that awaits (unbelievers) and as someone who wants to lift his people out of darkness and into the light," Zawahri said.
Zawahri, like Osama bin Laden and other leaders of al Qaeda -- the group that masterminded the September 11 attacks on the United States -- is thought to be hiding in Pakistan or Afghanistan.
Zawahri and Gadahn appeared to be speaking from different places, as Zawahri spoke in front of a black background.
The tape was dated September 2006 and appeared to have been recorded recently as Gadahn referred to Israel's war on Lebanon.
Gadahn appeared in the video dressed in a white turban and seated in front of a computer and books.
"But whatever you do don't attempt to spread your misery and misguidance to our lands," he said. The video carried Arabic subtitles of his English message.
Gadahn recited verses from the Muslim holy book the Koran in Arabic, then translated them into English and said Muslims needed to boost their faith to expel their countries' rulers.
"Muslims don't need democracy to rid themselves of their home grown despots and tyrants. What they do need is their Islamic faith, the sprit of jihad and the lifting of foreign troops and interference from their necks," he said, adding that God did not recognise a separation of religion and state.
"Those who think that democracy is synonymous with freedom are either people who haven't experienced life in America or Americans who haven't lived abroad."
Zawahri last appeared in a video in August in which he said that some leaders of Egypt's Gama'a Islamiya have joined al Qaeda. Gama'a Islamiya later denied his statement.