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Friday, November 10, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Al-Qaida in Iraq taunts Bush in new tape

The Associated Press

CAIRO, Egypt – Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed in a new audio tape today to be winning the war faster than expected in Iraq, saying it had mobilized 12,000 fighters.

The group said it welcomed the Republican electoral defeat that led to the departure of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and it added that its fighters would not rest until they had blown up the White House.

Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also known as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also urged the U.S. to stay in Iraq so his group would have more opportunities to kill American troops.

"The al-Qaida army has 12,000 fighters in Iraq, and they have vowed to die for God's sake," a man introduced as al-Muhajir said in an audio tape made available on militant Web sites.

"We will not rest from our Jihad until we are under the olive trees of Rumieh and we have blown up the filthiest house — which is called the White House," al-Muhajir said.

Al-Muhajir became the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike in June.

The tape could not be independently verified.

The speaker praised the outcome of Tuesday's elections in which Democrats swept to power in the House and the Senate, in large part due to U.S. voter dissatisfaction over the handling of the war in Iraq.

"The American people have put their feet on the right path by ... realizing their president's betrayal in supporting Israel," the terror leader said. "So they voted for something reasonable in the last elections."

Describing President Bush as "the most stupid president" in U.S. history, al-Masri reached out to the Muslim world and said his group was winning the war in Iraq faster than expected due to U.S. policies.

He urged Bush not to withdraw U.S. forces so al-Qaida could have more opportunities to fight U.S. soldiers. "We haven't had enough of your blood yet," he told the U.S.

The speaker also referred to Rumsfeld's resignation and called on "the lame duck (Bush) not to hurry up in escaping the same way the defense minister did."

"They are getting ready to leave, because they are no longer capable of staying," the al-Qaida leader said, referring to U.S. forces.

"Remain steadfast in the battlefield, you coward," he said, addressing Bush.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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