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Al Qaeda releases 9/11 anniversary message

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(CNN) -- A lengthy video statement from Ayman al-Zawahiri, issued on the eve of the fifth anniversary of al Qaeda's attacks on the United States, calls on Muslims to step up their resistance to the United States and warns that "new events" are on the way.

"Your leaders are hiding from you the true extent of the disaster," the fugitive deputy to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden says in the video, which appeared on Islamist Web sites late Sunday. "And the days are pregnant and giving birth to new events, with Allah's permission and guidance."

It appeared just hours before Monday's anniversary of the al Qaeda 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, which killed nearly 3,000 people. (Watch excerpts from the latest al Qaeda video -- :55)

It appears to have been recorded recently, with references to Israel's bombardment of Lebanon and the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by Palestinian militants in Gaza and by Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas. It criticizes the West for arming Israel and calls on the Muslim nation "to rush with everything at its disposal to the aid of its Muslim brothers in Lebanon and Gaza." (Watch how al Qaeda may attack next -- 1:54)

Al-Zawahiri says any attack on Westerners and Jews anywhere can be considered fair, because "the reality of international politics is the humiliation and repression of the Muslim at the hands of the idol-kings who dominate this world."

The statement calls on Muslims to fight U.S. allies in Somalia, where an Islamic militia recently pushed an American-backed alliance of warlords out of the capital Mogadishu. It also urges them "to make use of every opportunity afforded him to take revenge on America" for the imprisonment of blind Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman, considered a major theological force behind al Qaeda.

The video is more technically sophisticated than previous ones released by al Qaeda's fugitive leadership. It is an hour and 16 minutes long and is subtitled in English, with a short section of highlights at the outset. An interviewer asks al-Zawahiri a series of questions.

Al-Zawahiri calls for Iraq's Kurds, whose leaders have cooperated with U.S. troops in Iraq, to fight the Americans "and write an honorable page in the contemporary history of Islam." And he blasts "collaborators" and "defeatists" he says have turned their backs on Islamic law to endorse corrupt governments in the Middle East.

And in a threat to Britain, which currently commands NATO troops in Afghanistan, he says, "I want to bring to the attention of the British people that Dr. Brydon won't be returning to India this time." The comment is a reference to the sole survivor of a British army massacred in Afghanistan in 1842.

Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri escaped the U.S. onslaught that followed the 2001 suicide hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. They are believed to be hiding somewhere along the mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where U.S. and NATO troops are now battling a resurgence of al Qaeda's Taliban allies.

Al-Zawahiri says the situation in Afghanistan "is very good" for the Taliban, the Islamic militia that was ruling most of Afghanistan when the September 11 attacks occurred.

In a message directed at the people of the West, al-Zawahiri said Islamic fighters are scoring victories across Asia and the Middle East.

"We tell you not to concern yourselves with the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, these are doomed," he said. "You should worry about your presence in the Gulf and the second place they should worry about, is in Israel."

CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen said Sunday that al Qaeda was certain to make some sort of statement on Monday's anniversary.

"It would be very, very weird, in my view, if we didn't hear from either or both of them in the next few days, because this is something they want to remind Americans and their followers about -- the dreadful attacks on 9/11," Bergen said.

A videotape aired last week by Arabic-language network Al-Jazeera showed what was described as a meeting between bin Laden and Ramzi Binalshibh, a key plotter in the September 11 attacks, making preparations for the suicide hijackings.

CNN was unable to independently verify whether the video was indeed made in 2001, although two of the men shown on it -- Hamza Alghamdi and Wail Alshehri -- were hijackers who died in the 9/11 suicide missions. A senior White House official said the U.S. intelligence community was working to confirm whether the tape was authentic.

On Friday, al Qaeda released a longer version of the video, featuring more statements from bin Laden, as well as "Azzam the American," a California-born man named Adam Gadahn who previously has been featured on al Qaeda tapes.

Gadahn, who is listed as armed and dangerous on the FBI's Web site, appeared earlier this month on a tape with al-Zawahiri, urging Americans to convert to Islam. He also put out a tape last year on the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

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story.al.zawahiri.as.sahab.jpg

An image of Ayman al-Zawahiri taken from the video aired on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

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