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Al-Jazeera Airs New Tape From Al-Qaeda Deputy Leader

Ayman al-Zawahri, the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda (file photo) (epa) March 5, 2006 -- The Arabic television channel Al-Jazeera has broadcast a new video from the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri.

In his remarks, al-Zawahri criticized Western countries for the publication of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, describing the drawings as a deliberate insult by what he called "crusaders." He urged Muslims to boycott countries where the cartoons have been published, including Denmark, Norway, France, and Germany.

Al-Zawahri urged the continuation of a "jihad," or holy war, to reclaim Muslim land, and offered support to the Palestinian militant Islamic movement Hamas, which is in the process of forming a new Palestinian government.

Al-Zawahri called on Hamas not to recognize past agreements reached by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

U.S. State Department spokesman Justin Higgins dismissed the video, saying no taped threats will weaken the United States' commitment to combating international terrorism.

(compiled from agency reports)