Al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al Zawahiri, has surfaced again, this time in the form of an audio tape released this morning by as-Sahab, al Qaeda's media arm.
In the 22 minute audio tape, titled "Martyrdom of Heroes" and released on jihadist web forums, Zawahiri commemorates the deaths of three Bali bombers who were executed by firing squad over three weeks ago in Indonesia. Amrozi Nurhasyim, Ali Gufron and Imam Samudra had been convicted of bombing two Bali nightclubs in 2002, killing 202 people, including eight Americans.
"They knew the price and paid it gladly with no struggling," Zawahiri says of the bombers in the tape. "They put up with a long journey of torture and prison and they took the verdict happily. They went to God proud refusing to apologize."
Zawahiri last appeared Nov. 28 in a video released to jihadist web forums, in which he criticized the U.S. and its activity in Afghanistan and Iraq and discussed the state of jihad. Neither message made any mention of the attacks in Mumbai that have terrorized the city, which means the tape was most likely made before the attacks last week.
Experts say that messages from al Qaeda typically take at least once week to make it to these message forums once they are made, and they expect that there will be some type of comment on the Mumbai attacks.
"He's still going to come out in the next couple of weeks," former CIA officer and ABC News Consultant John Kiriakou said of Zawahiri and the expectation that he will comment on Mumbai. Kiriakou said that in such a statement, Zawahiri will likely threaten similar attacks elsewhere.
"He did it after the London bombings, he did it after the Madrid bombings, and he's going to do it again," said Kiriakou. He explained that because al Qaeda uses a network of couriers to release message, for their own internal security, news is slowly released.
"They don't want anyone to be able to trace locations by reverse engineering the courier system," Kiriakou said.