Sitting alongside a Kalashnikov and wearing white robes and a black turban, Zawahiri also warned that America might soon face the same fate as Britain unless it pulled its troops out of Iraq. His warning came after 22 Marines were killed by insurgents over the past two days in the Euphrates Valley west of Baghdad.
Islamabad intelligence sources tell TIME that Zawahiri, believed to be hiding with al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden somewhere along Pakistan's mountainous border with Afghanistan, probably made the video message and had it sent by courier into one of Pakistan's cities. From there, his fiery anti-western sermon was either hand-delivered by a courier to al Jazeera's main headquarters in Doha, Qatar, or else sent via the Internet. Media-savvy jihadis are increasingly using websites to transmit their tapes of the latest combat action against coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to broadcast their propaganda and to recruit fighters.
In his message, Zawahiri, believed to be al Qaeda's chief ideologue, said that "The truth...is that there is no way out of Iraq without immediate withdrawal, and any delay on this means only more dead, more losses. If you don't leave today, certainly you will leave tomorrow, and after tens of thousands of dead, and double that figure in disabled and wounded." Military officials in Baghdad believe U.S. forces are coming under intensified attack by suicide bombers and improvised explosives dispatched by followers of fugitive Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose jihadi group has declared itself al Qaeda's arm in Iraq, apparently with Zawahiri and bin Laden's blessing.