Al Qaeda’s second-in-command has urged George W Bush to admit defeat in Iraq in a new video broadcast by Al Jazeera television.
Ayman al-Zawahri claimed the US president’s plans to withdraw troops from the country meant Washington was already beaten. President Bush has refused to set a timetable for any withdrawal, but said on Wednesday that numbers could be reduced in 2006. Critics of Bush have demanded a quick withdrawal from Iraq. But the President insisted any reduction will be based on decisions made on the ground, and not a political timetable set by Washington.
Around 2,200 US personnel have been killed since the US-led invasion in March 2003. There have also been calls for a clear exit strategy for the US armed forces.
Al Zawahri, who has a 20-million euro bounty on his head, has eluded capture since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, shortly after the September 11th attacks on the United States.