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Al Qaeda declares 'failure and defeat' for U.S. troops in Iraq

  • Story Highlights
  • Audio recording purportedly is from the group's second-in-command
  • 16-minute message posted Thursday on militant Islamist Web sites
  • Tape references Gen. David Petraeus' recent testimony before Congress
  • Speaker says U.S. presidential candidates "trying to deceive their people"
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(CNN) -- Marking the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, al Qaeda's media arm released an audio recording, purportedly from the group's second-in-command, saying U.S. troops there have failed.

art.zawahiri.jpg

The audiotape allegedly is from Ayman al-Zawahiri, shown here in an image taken from a videotape.

"Where the American invasion stands now, after five years, is failure and defeat," the voice on the tape -- supposedly that of Ayman al-Zawahiri -- said in the roughly 16-minute recording, which was posted Thursday on several militant Islamist Web sites.

The tape referenced testimony by David Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Iraq, before Congress this month, when he said that further troop withdrawals in Iraq will have to wait at least another 45 days.

"It is all a silly episode to disguise failure in Iraq and so Bush would avoid making a decision on withdrawing troops -- which is considered to be a declaration of crusaders' defeat in Iraq -- and move forward the problem to be the next president's issue," he said.

CNN could not immediately confirm that the speaker was al-Zawahiri.

Al-Zawahiri's last public statement came April 3, when he said in an audio message that al Qaeda does not kill innocents and that Osama bin Laden is healthy.

In the latest tape, the speaker says that if President Bush "kept all his troops in Iraq until the end of time and until they go to hell, they will not witness anything except failure and defeat, God willing."

He also accuses Democrats seeking the presidency of "trying to deceive their people by saying that they will withdraw their troops from Iraq by talking to Iran."

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois has said he would be open to meeting with leaders of nations unfriendly to the United States, like Iran, to bring about positive changes overseas. His Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, has said she would be reluctant to meet with such leaders.

The speaker spent about 10 minutes of the message addressing what he called corruption in Egypt and other Muslim nations that he said has led to food shortages and other hardships for citizens. Al-Zawahiri is from Egypt.

"Corruption and stealing have gotten to the point of making people hungry and preventing them from basic food," he said. "Making people hungry in Egypt ... is a part of the U.S.-Zionist plan, which aims to make Muslims subservient."

Egypt has been the site of civil unrest over high food and fuel prices, according to the United Nations' World Food Program. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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