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Al Qaeda strategist condemns reformists

CAIRO -- Al-Jazeera television aired a videotape yesterday purporting to show Al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahri denouncing US calls for overhauls in the region and urging the West to respect the Islamic world.

Zawahri, who appeared sitting on the ground and in front of a brown background, said the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "explains the truth about reforms and democracy that America alleges it wants to impose in our countries."

"Reform is based on American detention camps like Bagram, Kandahar, Guantanamo, and Abu Ghraib. It will be based on cluster bombs and imposition of people like Karzai and Allawi," he said, referring to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi of Iraq. "Real security is based on mutual cooperation with the Islamic nation on the basis of mutual respect and the stopping of aggression."

Al-Jazeera reported that the excerpt was part of a longer videotape, but it did not indicate the length of the entire recording. The station did not say whether it would air the rest of the video. In Washington, the CIA said it was looking at the tape to determine its authenticity.

The videotape is the latest in a string of threats against the United States and its allies from the Egyptian-born Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's deputy in the Al Qaeda terrorist network. It was unclear whether the videotape was the same or a different message than one posted on the Internet criticizing the "rigged elections" in Iraq shortly after that country's landmark Jan. 30 vote.

That message was said to be a transcript from an audiotape.

Zawahri was wearing a clean and well-pressed white and brown robe and traditional headdress in the tape. A Kalashnikov rifle was leaning against the backdrop.

He warned that "the new crusade is doomed to fail" and said it would result in "tens of thousands of fallen victims and the destruction of your economy."

"If you, the Western nations, think that these cardboard governments can protect you, you are wrong," he said about governments in the Middle East. "Your real security is through cooperation with the Islamic Nation."

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