Gulf, Israel next targets |
Threatens Qaeda tape as world mourns 9/11
Agencies, Dubai/ Washington
al-Qaeda warned in a video aired on the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks that US allies Israel and the Gulf Arab states would be its next target in a campaign that would seal the West's "economic doom."
The USA began a solemn observance of the fifth anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks yesterday, with sorrowful family members clutching photos of the victims at the World Trade Centre site and quiet remembrances planned around the country.
A moment of silence was observed at ground zero at 8:46 a.m., commemorating the moment American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the trade centre's north tower.
Family members began arriving before 7 am at the trade centre site, some clutching bouquets of roses and framed photos of their loved ones. Others wore pins bearing pictures of the victims while Deputy al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri said in remarks apparently addressed to Western leaders: "I tell them do not bother yourselves with defending your forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. These forces are 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 broadcast in part on the Arabic al-Jazeera television channel.
"And the next (target) is Israel. The current of holy war is closing on it and your end there will put an end of the Zionist-crusader supremacy."
Zawahri's warning of attacks in the Gulf, the world's top oil exporting region, follows previous calls by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to target oil facilities to cripple the West.
al-Qaeda has also in the past branded US-allied governments in the Middle East as infidels and traitors, and has used this collusion with the West to justify their attacks.
Gulf Arab leaders all have strong ties with Washington and Saudi-born bin Laden has in the past singled out the Saudi royal family for censure. The Saudi wing of al-Qaeda launched in 2003 a campaign of shootings and suicide bombings, many targeting foreigners, to topple the House of Saud.
In February, al-Qaeda militants conducted a failed attack on the world's largest oil processing plant in Saudi Arabia. The group then vowed to carry out more attacks.
Insurgents in Iraq have often targeted oil facilities and in Yemen, bin Laden's ancestral homeland which is cracking down on militants, al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the bombing of the US destroyer Cole in 2000 and an attack on a French supertanker two years later.
Ceremonies were due to take place on Monday across the United States to mark the attacks on New York and Washington which killed almost 3,000 people and triggered Washington's global "war on terror."
In the video, Zawahri urged Muslims to step up attacks against the United States and the West, according to excerpts aired by CNN television network.
CNN said the video was available on Islamist Web sites, but it could not be found on the mainstream sites often used by militant groups. It quoted Zawahri as saying that "new events" were on the way.