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Bin Laden deputy sends message

Cites al Qaeda's three pillars for reform


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Ayman al-Zawahiri appears on the Arabic language network Al-Jazeera Friday.

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(CNN) -- Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant urged Muslims to press on with their jihad against U.S. and Western interests in the "land of Islam," saying that Islamic nations must be allowed to run their own affairs without foreign interference.

The Arabic language television network Al-Jazeera aired on Friday portions of the video by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 man in al Qaeda -- his first message in four months.

The gray-bearded, bespectacled terrorist leader looked healthier and fuller than he did in his last message, which aired February 20. (Full story)

An assault rifle sat propped up against a wall behind his right shoulder as he spoke.

"Kicking out the invading crusader forces and the Jews will not only happen by demonstrations and by shouting in the streets. Reform and expulsion of the invaders out of the Muslim land will only be accomplished by fighting for the sake of God," said al-Zawahiri.

He then cited a Quranic verse: "God said fight them and God will torture them through your hands."

Al-Zawahiri did not make a specific date reference. The tape does include his mention of protests in Egypt last month, the Al-Jazeera anchor said.

Accusation of U.S. meddling

Al-Zawahiri appealed to Muslims with what he called al Qaeda's three pillars for reform: following Islamic law (Sharia); freedom of the "land of Muslims" and allowing the "Islamic nation" to run its own affairs without foreign interference.

He was sharply critical of U.S. embassies in Islamic countries, accusing them of "meddling."

He said, "We cannot imagine any reform while our land is occupied by the crusaders who are stationed on all our land, from end to end."

To Palestinians, he said they should continue to fight and not "be dragged into the secular game of elections under a secular constitution."

"I salute my brothers in the Muslim stronghold of Palestine, and I ask them by God not to abandon their jihad and not to lay down their weapons and not to believe the advice given to them by the secularists."

Al-Zawahiri, who turns 54 on Sunday, is one of the most wanted men in the world.

The U.S. government has posted a $25 million reward for information leading to his capture. In addition to being bin Laden's top adviser, he is believed to be bin Laden's personal doctor.

Al-Zawahiri has been indicted in the United States for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya that killed 225 people and wounded thousands of others.

CNN's Octavia Nasr and Henry Schuster contributed to this report.

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