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Bin Laden's No. 2 condemns Mohammed cartoons

New video also congratulates Palestinian Hamas victory

In the video, al-Zawahiri blasts controversial cartoons as part of a "crusaders' war" against Islam.


Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Acts of terror
Osama Bin Laden

(CNN) -- In a videotape broadcast Saturday, Osama bin Laden's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, condemns published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that have sparked violent protests throughout the Muslim world.

The al Qaeda deputy blames freedom of speech for "the insult against the Prophet Mohammed," according to a CNN translation.

Muslims consider it sacrilegious to produce a likeness of Mohammad.

In the video, al-Zawahiri wears a black turban and stands in front of a panel of white lace curtains.

The cartoons, al-Zawahiri says, are a continuation of the "crusaders' war" against Islam.

The cartoons initially were published September 30 by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. They were reprinted earlier this year in several newspapers whose editors argued publication of the cartoons is a matter of free speech. Several Arab nations began boycotting Danish goods.

The Egyptian doctor has released numerous taped messages in recent months. The Arabic-language satellite television channel Al-Jazeera aired the latest tape, and CNN could not immediately authenticate the recording or when it was made.

In his message, Al-Zawahiri also congratulates Hamas for its January victory in parliamentary Palestinian elections, toppling the Fatah Party, which had dominated Palestinian politics for decades.

"I would like to tell my brothers in Hamas to fight on and not to accept agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel," al-Zawahiri says.

"Reaching power is not a goal by itself ... and no Palestinian has the right to give away a grain of the soil. The seculars in the Palestinian Authority have sold out Palestine for crumbs. ... Giving them legitimacy is against Islam," he says. He urges the Palestinians to "get back what is yours."

"No one has the right, whether Palestinian or not, to abandon a grain of soil from Palestine, which was a Muslim land, which was occupied by infidels. It is the duty of every Muslim to work in getting it back."

Al-Zawahiri speaks insistently, waving his right hand for emphasis.

He also refers to recently discovered photos of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. (Full story)

"And here are the pictures of Abu Ghraib coming out again to show the American lies and criminal acts," he says in the tape.

"All this in the West is allowed so they can steal and occupy our land, and stealing our wealth and insulting us and our religion and Quran, and our prophet. And after that they gave us lessons on freedom and human rights," al-Zawahiri says.

CIA air strike

Al-Zawahiri was the target of an unsuccessful January 13 CIA air strike on a home in Damadola, Pakistan, where al Qaeda members were thought to be attending a dinner.

U.S. officials have said that between four and eight al Qaeda members were killed in the CIA attack in Damadola, near the Afghanistan border.

Pakistani officials said 18 people were killed in the air strike, including five women and five children, which prompted large protests across the country. (Full story)

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