Terrorism: Al-Zawahiri says al-Qaeda does not kill innocent people

Dubai, 3 April (AKI) - Al-Qaeda's No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri has rejected criticism that the terror network's attacks have killed innocent people.

"Al-Qaeda does not kill civilians, if it does happens it's by mistake," said al-Zawahiri in a 90-minute audio message posted on the Internet late Wednesday night.

The message was in response to the hundreds of questions put to al-Qaeda on Islamic forums on the Internet between December and January.

"I have tried to group the questions with the aim of dividing them in terms of subject and importance," said the al-Qaeda leader in the audio message. "The first group of questions which I would like to start with refer to the theme of the killing of innocent people."

Al-Zawahiri began by addressing a question posted by a "Mudarrisu Geografia" which asked: "Dear Mr. Zawahiri, when killing Jews with your blessing such as those who were targeted with the attacks in Baghdad and Algiers, is it part of your Jihad to kill the children, women and innocent civilians who also die?

"Why not do this in Tel Aviv and carry out attacks in Israel instead of targeting Muslim countries?"

In response, al-Zawahiri said: "We do not kill civilians anywhere."

"If innocent people die in the attacks by the mujahadeen it is an unforseeable event and happens by mistake. We fight the enemies of Islam and if something like this happens in the process it is because the enemy uses the civilians as human shields," he said.

As for attacks against Israeli or Jewish targets, al-Zawahiri said that al-Qaeda has hit "the synagogue in Jerba in Tunisia, attacked a group of Jewish tourists in Mombasa in Kenya and launched missiles against the Israeli El-Al airline."

He also cited the last message released by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden when he said that once the war in Iraq has ended, the mujahadeen will head towards Jerusalem.

He also said that al-Qaeda has attacked the United States, Britain and Spain.

Al-Qaeda's No. 2 defended the attacks carried out on the United Nations offices in Baghdad and Algiers, saying the UN 's work "covers actions conducted against Muslims of the world".

"The UN is considered an enemy if Islam and so we can carry out attacks on its buildings," he said.

The attack on the UN office in Algiers last December killed 41 people while 22 people were killed in the attack targeting the UN in Baghdad in 2003.

Al-Zawahiri also spoke about the health of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"Sheikh Osama is in good health," he said, adding that the news about his illness is "only propaganda".

Al-Zawahiri also called for attacks on Jews both inside and outside Israel.

"We promise our Muslim brothers that we will do our utmost to strike Jewish people in Israel and abroad with help and guidance from God," he said.

Reports say some 900 questions were posted to al-Qaeda through the websites linked to the group.

"I would like to thank all of those who responded to the open debate with me by our production arm, Al-Sahab, and in particular those who operate within the media Jihad," al-Zawahiri said in the message.

The al-Qaeda leader apologised for taking so long to respond to the questions that had been posted to the group by al-Qaeda supporters and those curious about the terror network.


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