- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2005

CAIRO — Al Qaeda’s No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, took responsibility for the July 7 London bombings in a video aired yesterday on Al Jazeera that included a farewell statement by a man identified as one of the four suicide attackers.

It was the first explicit claim of responsibility for the blasts by the terrorist group led by Osama bin Laden.

Al-Zawahri threatened the West with “more catastrophes” in retaliation for the policies of President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Al-Zawahri did not say outright that his terror group carried out the attacks on the London transit system that killed 56 persons, including the four bombers, but he said they were a direct response to Britain’s foreign policies and its rejection of a truce al Qaeda offered Europe in April 2004.

“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.”

“This blessed battle has transferred — like its glorious predecessors in New York, Washington, and Madrid — the battle to the enemies’ land, after many centuries of the battle being on our [Muslim] land and after [Western] troops have occupied our land in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine.”

After the March 2004 train bombings that killed 191 persons in the Spanish capital, bin Laden was reported to have offered European countries a three-month cease-fire in which he invited them to consider his demands.

A newscaster on the satellite channel Al Jazeera said the al-Zawahri tape also included a recording of one of the July 7 suicide bombers.

Speaking English with a heavy Yorkshire accent, the bomber, Mohammad Sidique Khan, said he had forsaken “everything for what we believe” and went on to accuse Western civilians of being directly responsible for the terror attacks that befall 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,” Khan said.

He was shown wearing a red-and-white checked kaffiyeh and a dark jacket. He had a trimmed beard and appeared to be sitting against a wall lined with an ornate carpet.

In the video, the image of Khan resembled photos of him published after the attacks.

Al-Zawahri appeared in black turban and white robes with an automatic weapon leaning against the wall beside Khan.

Khan, 30, was a Leeds resident who died in the bombing of the London Underground train near Edgware Road.

In a tape aired Aug. 4 by Al Jazeera, al-Zawahri did not directly say that al Qaeda carried out the July 7 bombings or the failed July 21 attacks, but he brought the July 7 attacks under al Qaeda’s wing and depicted the terror network as still capable of delivering strikes worldwide despite arrests in Europe and blows against its leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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