BEIRUT, Lebanon, June 9 (UPI) -- Al-Qaida number two, Ayman Zawahiri, appeared on video-tape to talk about the Palestinian and Sudanese issues without mentioning Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death.
In the tape broadcast Friday by the Qatar-based al-Jazeera news network, Zawahiri praised the chief of al-Qaida in Iraq as the "true Muslim hero," suggesting that the tape was recorded before Zarqawi was killed with seven of his aides in a U.S. raid near Baaqouba, east of Baghdad Wednesday evening.
Zawahiri called on the Palestinians to reject a referendum proposed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a national document drafted by key prisoners from various Palestinian groups held in Israeli jails.
"I call on them to reject the referendum over Palestine, because Palestine is not for bargaining and its liberation is a compulsory Islamic duty," Zawahiri said.
He also lashed out at Arabs for failing to provide financial assistance to the Palestinians under economic siege since Hamas formed the present government.
"None of the Arab leaders had the courage to provide for the needs of the Palestinians for even one month, despite their waste of money on immoral acts and security expenses," Zawahiri said clad in a white robe.
"I call on Muslims everywhere to support their Palestinian brothers, especially the mujahideen (Muslim warriors) and the families of martyrs and prisoners," he added.
Zawahiri also lashed out at the Sudanese government for a accepting the deployment of international peacekeeping forces in the troubled Darfur region.
"In Sudan, the Crusader's Security Council decided to send military experts to Darfur to pave the ground for its occupation... The weak Sudanese government participated with America in partitioning Iraq in order to stay in power," Zawahiri added.