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Al-Qaida tape urges young Muslims to fight

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Ayman al-Zawahiri

Ayman al-Zawahiri

WASHINGTON — A new audiotaped message by al-Qaida's second-ranking leader that was broadcast on Friday calls on young Muslims around the world to "carry on the fight" even if the group's leaders are killed or captured.

The message by the leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was broadcast on Al-Jazeera television, and intelligence officials in Washington said that a review by the CIA had concluded that it was authentic.

The new message from Zawahiri was his second in less than a month, and it was the latest in a continuing flow of exhortations from fugitive leaders of the terrorist group. Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, the top al-Qaida leader, are among those who have evaded American capture since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and government officials said there had been no indication that any of the senior leaders had died.

The tape was broadcast only hours after President Bush, in his Thursday night debate with Sen. John Kerry, had emphasized American successes in what he described as the capture of 75 percent of "known al-Qaida leaders," a reference to those known to U.S. authorities at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Zawahiri spoke in Arabic in the tape, but an English-language translation of the message by CNN was posted on CNN.com. The message called on young Muslims to resist what Zawahiri described as the "crusader campaign," a reference to the United States and its allies. The message included references to the countries that have contributed troops to the American-led forces in Iraq.

"We shouldn't wait for the American, English, French, Jewish, Hungarian, Polish and South Korean forces to invade Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen and Algeria and then start the resistance after the occupier had already invaded us," Zawahiri said in the message. "We should start now."

Zawahiri, an Egyptian physician, was last heard in a videotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language satellite channel based in Qatar, on Sept. 9, when he forecast an American defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan.