New Video Message by Ayman al-Zawahiri: “American Crimes in Kabul”

Summary Analysis: Video is a call to jihad directed to all young Muslim students in Kabul. An increase in attacks against U.S. led forces in Afghanistan, particularly in the southern region can be expected.

22 June 2006: Dressed in a white robe and turban against a dark background with his trademark automatic rifle propped next him, al Qaeda’s second-in-command – Ayman al-Zawahiri, appeared in a three minute, 44 second video carrying the As-Sahab logo and promising “significant violence” by Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan. The video was posted on Thursday on a website often used by al-Qaeda terrorists and is his sixth this year. Transcripts of this message are being carried in three languages: Arabic, Farsi and Pashtun, and appears to be directed to the young Islamic men in Kabul to “honor their responsibility in defending their homeland against the infidel invaders.”Al-Zawahiri instructs “Muslim brothers in Afghanistan, and especially in Kabul, to stand as one with the Mujahadeen” (Muslim fighters) so that the invading forces might be expelled. His last message, broadcast on June 9, urged Palestinians to boycott a referendum to recognize Israel’s statehood.

Although there is nothing to suggest exactly when the video was made, al-Zawahri appears to be referring to violent anti-US protests that broke out in Kabul on May 29, 2006 after a US military truck crashed into traffic. An analysis of the video suggests that it was made a short time later and coincides with an upsurge in violence against US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Nearly 1,000 casualties have been reported this year, including 47 American troops and 18 other foreign soldiers.

In this latest video, al-Zawahiri cited unspecified US “aggressions” in various cities in Afghanistan as examples of “crimes against Islam.” The video also referenced the “ridiculing of our holy prophet by the Italian, Danish and French,” an obvious reference to the caricatures of the Islamic Prophet that caused an uproar earlier this year, and references the (alleged) desecration of the Qu’ran in Bagram and Guantanemo.