London suicide bomber appears in farewell tape along with al-Qaida No. 2
September 1, 2005
Associated PressCAIRO, Egypt – One of the four suicide attackers who bombed London’s transit system on July 7 made a dramatic farewell in a videotape broadcast Thursday that also included a warning of more bloodshed from al-Qaida’s No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri.Speaking English, Mohammad Sidique Khan, a Briton of Pakistani ancestry, said Westerners had failed to heed previous warnings, “therefore we will talk to you in a language that you understand. Our words are dead until we give them life with our blood.”The two men did not appear together in the tape – instead, shots of each were edited together – and al-Zawahri did not mention Khan. A newscaster on al-Jazeera, which aired the tape, said Khan’s last “will” came as part of a long tape that consisted mostly of al-Zawahri talking.While their appearance together in an edited tape appeared to show some level of coordination, it would have been more significant had they appeared together in one portion – indicating that al-Zawahri was a hands-on commander who met directly with attackers.Nevertheless, the association of the al-Qaida leader and the 30-year-old suicide bomber was the strongest link yet of a role by the terror organization in the attacks on three subway trains and a double-decker bus, which killed 56 people.It was not clear where or how long before the July 7 bombings the tape of Khan had been made.In the tape, Khan did not claim responsibility for the impending bombings in the name of al-Qaida. But he did say he was inspired by al-Zawahri, and also by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and by the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi.”Until we feel security, you will be our targets,” he said in the tape, addressing himself to Westerners. “Until you will stop the bombing, gassing, imprisonment and torture of my people, we will not stop this fight.”In an apparent foreshadowing of his plan to die, he said: “I’m sure by now the media has painted a suitable picture of me. Its predictable propaganda machine naturally will tack a spin on things to suit the government and scare the masses to conform to their power- and wealth-obsessed agenda.”Khan spoke with a heavy Yorkshire accent, sported a trimmed beard, wore a red-and-white checked keffiyeh and a dark jacket and appeared to be sitting against a wall lined with an ornate carpet. The image resembled photos of him published after the deadly attacks.In his portion of the tape, al-Zawahri did not say outright that his terror group carried out the bombings. But he said the attacks were a direct response to Britain’s foreign policies and its rejection of a truce that al-Qaida offered Europe in April 2004.He threatened the West with “more catastrophes” in retaliation for the policies of President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.”I talk to you today about the blessed London battle, which came as a slap to the face of the tyrannical, crusader British arrogance,” al-Zawahri said. “It’s a sip from the glass that the Muslims have been drinking from.”In a clear bid to turn Britons against the government, al-Zawahri said: “Blair not only disregards the millions of people in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he does not care about you as he sends you to the inferno in Iraq and exposes you to death in your land because of his crusader war against Islam.”Al-Zawahri appeared in black turban and white robes with an automatic weapon leaning against the wall beside him, as he did in a previous tape aired Aug. 4 when he made similar threats. He and bin Laden are both thought to be hiding along the rugged Afghan-Pakistani border.Khan, a 30-year-old resident of the English city of Leeds, reportedly traveled to Pakistan before he died in the bombing of the London Underground train near Edgware Road.Addressing the camera, Khan said he had forsaken “everything for what we believe” and went on to accuse Western civilians of being responsible for the terror attacks against them.”Your democratically elected governments continuously perpetuate injustice against my people all over the world, and your support of them makes you directly responsible, just as I am directly responsible for protecting and avenging my Muslim brothers and sisters,” he said.In London, a police spokeswoman said authorities would consider the tape “as part of our ongoing investigation.” Blair’s office refused to comment.Two U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the message’s sensitive nature, said al-Qaida would regard the London bombings as a victory whether or not they were involved.The deputy chief editor of al-Jazeera, Ayman Gaballah, said the broadcaster received the tape Thursday by means it would not disclose. The tape was 15 minutes long and contained several clips of fighting in Iraq and the Palestinian territories. Al-Jazeera aired most of the talk and edited out much of the illustrative material, Gaballah told The Associated Press in a call from Doha.Shortly after the July 7 London attacks, there were at least two purported claims of responsibility on Islamic Web sites. But both were from groups who have made dubious claims in the past.In the tape aired Aug. 4, al-Zawahri did not directly claim that al-Qaida carried out the July 7 bombings or the failed July 21 attacks. But he brought the earlier attacks under al-Qaida’s wing and depicted the terror network as still capable of delivering strikes around the world despite arrests in Europe and blows against its leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan.After the March 2004 train bombings that killed 191 people in Madrid, bin Laden was reported to have offered European countries a three-month cease-fire to consider his demands to withdraw their troops from Muslim countries. Effectively it meant that European forces should leave Afghanistan and Iraq.—Associated Press reporters Katherine Shrader in Washington and Maamoun Youssef and Nadia Abou el-Magd in Cairo contributed to this story.