Al-Qaida second-in-command issues video

Iran Materials 22 June 2006 11:18 (UTC +04:00)

(AP) - Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader has issued a new videotape calling on Afghans to rise up against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan in the wake of rioting last month in Kabul.

The video by Ayman al-Zawahri which would be his sixth this year was reported Wednesday by IntelCenter, an Alexandria, Va.-based contractor that provides counterterrorism intelligence services to the U.S. government, reports Trend.

"I am calling upon the Muslims in Kabul in particular and in all Afghanistan in general and for the sake of God to stand up in an honest stand in the face of the infidel forces that are invading Muslim lands," al-Zawahri said in Arabic, according to a translation by IntelCenter.

The 3 1/2-minute tape appears to have been made the day after a May 29 accident in which a U.S. military truck crashed into traffic in Kabul, killing up to five people. The incident sparked anti-foreigner riots in Kabul that left about 20 people dead the deadliest unrest in the Afghan capital since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

"I direct my speech today to my Muslim brothers in Kabul who lived the bitter events yesterday and saw by their own eyes a new proof of the criminal acts of the American forces against the Afghani people," al-Zawahri said in the videotape.

The tape came a day after the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan warned that "significant fighting" lies ahead as Taliban fighters resist the coalition push to sweep clear the southern region of the country ahead of a security handover to NATO-led forces later this summer, military officials said.

Operation Mountain Thrust began in earnest last week with more than 10,000 Afghan, British, Canadian and American troops deploying throughout four southern provinces to crush a resurgent Taliban force in the largest military operation since the former regime's 2001 ouster.

More than 600 people, mostly militants, have been killed since May amid the deadliest campaign of insurgent-led violence in years. At least 10 coalition soldiers have been killed in combat since mid-May.

In the video, al-Zawahri appears wearing a white turban and sitting in front of a black backdrop with an automatic rifle next to him, according to IntelCenter. The firm did not say how it obtained the video.

The new message is part of a dramatic increase in videos and audiotapes by al-Qaida. Al-Qaida's leader Osama bin Laden has issued three tapes this year, along with the six from his deputy, the Egyptian-born al-Zawahri.

Bin Laden and al-Zawahri are believed to be hiding in the rugged border zone of Pakistan and Afghanistan.