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Al Qaeda No. 2 Vows More Attacks On West

In this image made from video provided by IntelCenter, Al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, appears in a new video tape calling on Muslims to unite in jihad, or holy war, and support the Islamist movement in Iraq, a US-based intelligence monitoring group said Wednesday.
AP Photo/via InterCenter
Osama bin Laden's chief deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri warned Tuesday that the terror group still has plans to target Western countries involved in the Iraq war as he released a second audiotape answering questions posed by followers.

The comments by al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, in a lengthy audiotape posted on an Islamic web site, could not be immediately confirmed as authentic. But the voice sounded like past audiotapes from the terror leader.

Asked by one follower if the terror group still had plans to attack Western countries that participated in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and subsequent war, al-Zawahiri said: "My answer is, yes. We believe that anybody who participated in the aggression against Muslims has to be deterred."

CBS News terrorism consultant Hoda Osman, said al-Zawahiri repeatedly stated there were no women in al Qaeda's ranks. He said women help by enduring the hardships associated with militancy well as by raising children.

But, said Osman, the al Qaeda deputy seemed to contradict himself when he responded to a woman asking if she should participate in jihad in North Africa. He told her that, as an Islamic obligation, jihad should include everybody, but that because she in particular has nobody to whom she can entrust her children, she should not join.

The tape Tuesday was the second time that al-Zawahri has answered the more than 900 questions submitted on extremist Internet sites by al Qaeda supporters, critics and journalists in December.

In a first response earlier this month, al-Zawahiri rejected the criticism of attacks by the terror network's followers, which have killed thousands, and maintained that the group does not kill innocent people.

Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York and Washington in 2001, while its affiliates in Iraq, Afghanistan and Algeria regularly set off bombs in crowded urban areas that have taken thousands of lives.

In another answer Tuesday, al-Zawahiri said it was against Islamic religious law for any Muslim to live permanently in a Western country because in doing so they would "have permanent stay there under the laws of the infidels."

Osman said four questions were posed by people claiming to live in the West, some of whom asked whether they should travel to Afghanistan or Iraq. Osman said a number of people asked questions in English, which al-Zawahiri said he translated before answering.

Osama bin Laden's deputy also used his answer session to appeal for funding, said Osman. "Money is the foundation of jihad," he repeated. "I advise every Mujahed who heads to the fields of jihad, to collect as much money as he can to bring to the mujahideen."

Al-Zawahiri also indicated jihad comes above all else, including marriage. Osman said he advised a man asking if he should travel for jihad, even though he had promised to marry a girl, that there was nothing more important than jihad because it was an "obligation".

Al Qaeda's media arm, Al-Sahab, announced in December that al-Zawahri would take questions from the public posted on Islamic militant Web sites and would respond "as soon as possible."

Queries were submitted on the main Islamist Web site until the cutoff date of Jan. 16. After the deadline, the questions disappeared from the site.

According to the questions, self-proclaimed al Qaeda supporters appeared to be as much in the dark about the terror network's operations and intentions as Western analysts and intelligence agencies.

The questioners appeared uncertain whether al Qaeda's central leadership directly controls the multiple, small militant groups around the Middle East that work in its name, or whether those groups operate on their own.

Some asked if al Qaeda had a long-term strategy, while others wanted advice about conducting Islamic holy war.