Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second top leader, denounced US president Barack Obama’s Middle East policy as “nothing but a new stage in the Crusader and Zionist campaign to subjugate and humiliate us… and our religion” in a statement posted on an Islamist website Monday, Dec. 14.
He also slammed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Saudi king Abdullah and Jordan’s monarch as “Arab Zionists.” By unusually listing them by name, Zawahiri is seen by DEBKAfile’s terror experts as directly threatening those leaders whom he accuses of “implementing the orders of Obama… whose real plan is to support Israel…”
DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report that Zawahiri’s angry statement was posted as Lebanese president Michel Suleiman prepared to meet President Obama at the White House Tuesday, Dec. 14. It was influenced no doubt by the breakup of an important al Qaeda ring in Lebanon controlled by one of his minions, Gemal Baioni, an undercover operative of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad who was based in Athens.
Lebanese military intelligence moved in on the network in time to foil its mission to attack US, UK, French and German embassies in Beirut and UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon while Suleiman was away in Washington. The agents acted on information drawn from three al Qaeda operatives captured last week at the border village of Majdal Anjar on the Beirut-Damascus highway, which led to the rest of the network being rolled up Thursday night, Dec. 11 in Beirut and the Palestinian Ein Hilwa refugee camp.
The network’s commander was Tareq Abdul Fattah Baidouin codenamed Abu Qusaiba, a biochemist whose extremist leanings and connections were kept dark.
Their controller, the Egyptian Baioni, visited Lebanon several times in recent months to get operations moving. However, last October he arrived from Athens particularly to supervise a Katyusha rocket barrage against northern Israel on the 27th of the month. Only one 207mm rocket was actually fired. Another four were found by UN peacekeepers ready for launching.
Al Qaeda named that operation for Zaid Jarrah, he commanded the hijack of Flight 93 from Newark airport which on Sept. 2001 crashed in Pennsylvania killing all 43 people aboard. Baioni was out of Lebanon when the al Qaeda ring was broken up. The Greek authorities have mounted a big manhunt for his capture.