Al Qaeda threatens attacks in Gulf, Israel

DUBAI - Al Qaeda used the fifth anniversary of September 11 to urge Muslims to hit Western interests and said US allies Gulf Arab states and Israel would be the next targets in a campaign to seal the West's economic doom.

"The strongest way to aid our Muslim brothers ... is to strike the interests of Jews and Crusaders and those who cooperate with them," deputy al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri said in a video posted on a website used by Islamist militants.

"There must be a focus on their economic interests and in particular on stopping the theft of Muslims' plundered petroleum," he said in a 76-minute interview with al Qaeda's media arm - al-Sahab.

In a message to Western people, Zawahri said it was not worth defending forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan because they were doomed to failure.

"You have to bolster your defences in two areas ... the first is the Gulf, from which you will be evicted, God willing, after your defeat in Iraq and then your economic doom will be achieved," he said in the video.

"And the next (target) is Israel. The current of holy war is closing on it and your end there will put an end to the Zionist-crusader supremacy."

Fight the peacekeepers

Zawahri called for fighting United Nations forces in Lebanon, condemning them as "enemies of Islam" in the first direct threat against the peacekeepers deployed to oversee a ceasefire that ended Israel's war with Hizbollah guerrillas.

"I call on every sincere Muslim who is able to reach south Lebanon to rush to defeat the Zionist forces invading Lebanon ... to strive with everything at our disposal to set up a jihad base on the borders of Palestine," he said.

Zawahri called on militants to widen their fighting against Israeli and Western interests everywhere - including Western civilians because they elected leaders who are fighting Muslims.

"Jews and crusaders, wherever they are, must pay the price for killing our Muslim brothers in Lebanon, Palestine..."

Al Qaeda's goal, Zawahri said, was to "liberate all of Palestine and (recapture) land ... from Spain to Iraq".

Zawahri, a Sunni Muslim from a school that sees Shi'ite Muslims as heretics, said Osama bin Laden had authorized attacks in Iraq above all against Americans, but also against collaborators from whatever sect, a clear reference to Shi'ites.

He said bin Laden had given militants "freedom ... to confront any movement that might ally itself with the Americans against Muslims in Iraq, whatever its race or sect".

Zawahri also blasted Shi'ites as "charlatans".

"What the traitorous charlatans are doing in Iraq serves the interests of America and ... by turning Iraq into a stable US base and the safety of Israel."

- REUTERS

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