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Audiotape charges U.S. doesn't want Arab reforms

Voice on tape claims to be bin Laden's chief deputy

From Caroline Faraj
CNN

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Ayman al-Zawahiri is considered to be Osama bin Laden's second-in-command.
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  • Nationality: Egyptian

  • Position: Osama bin Laden's closest adviser

  • Status: Wanted, $25 million reward

  • Background: Medical doctor; founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad; referred to as the "brains of al Qaeda"
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    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- In an audiotape broadcast Friday on the Arabic-language television network Al-Arabiya, a man claims to be al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and charges that Americans don't want democracy and freedom in the Arab world.

    In a 39-second excerpt from what the network said was a 10-minute audiotape, the speaker mentioned the Arab summit that took place in Tunisia on May 22-23, and denounced the reforms discussed at that meeting.

    There was no way for CNN to independently verify the authenticity of the tape.

    The 52-year-old al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian national, is considered to be Osama bin Laden's closest adviser and is viewed by many analysts as the operational brains behind the al Qaeda terror network.

    Arab leaders meeting in Tunisia last month agreed on a platform of reforms on such issues as human rights, women's rights and democratic processes, "according to our own culture and terms of reference," Tunisia's foreign minister said at the time. (Full story)

    The voice on the audiotape said al Qaeda is against such reforms, and that they would not benefit the Arab world.

    "Americans do not want the reforms in the Arab world," the speaker said. "The Americans will not give us democracy and freedom. Democracy and freedom should come from within us, from our own souls, and our children and young generation will benefit from it.

    "The Americans do not want democracy and freedom for Muslims."

    The last audiotaped message believed to come from al Qaeda was from bin Laden, who issued threats against coalition officials in Iraq.

    The CIA said the voice on the audiotape, which was posted May 6 on a radical Islamic Web site, was likely that of the al Qaeda leader.

    Al-Zawahiri was last heard from in an audiotape broadcast March 25 on the Arabic-language news network Al-Jazeera, in which he called on Pakistanis to overthrow President Pervez Musharraf.

    CIA officials also believe that tape was authentic.

    Al-Zawahiri is one of the United States' most-wanted terrorism suspects. He was indicted along with bin Laden in the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that killed 224 people. Al-Zawahiri is accused of being the mastermind behind the bombings.

    U.S. government sources also believe he played a significant role in the attacks of September 11, 2001.


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