Ayman al-Zawahri appeared feisty and at times angry on a videotape released by the al Jazeera network today. During the 10-minute tape, he taunts President Bush, whom he calls "the butcher of Washington."
In a strident tone, Zawahri claims that God determines when he will die, not the president of the United States. He refers several times to the Jan.13 airstrike in the Pakistani village of Damadola, which was meant to kill him but instead killed four of his closest deputies and 14 villagers.
"If my time has not come," Zawahri said on the videotape, "then you and all the forces on earth, all human beings, cannot advance my fate by one second."
Addressing President Bush, he said: "Not only are you defeated and a liar, but with God's help and force, you bring bad luck to your nation."
"He is angry. I know that this is an angrier Ayman al-Zawahri than usual," said Fawaz Gerges, an international relations professor at Sarah Lawrence College and the author of "The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global," which focuses on Zawahri. "Obviously he has either been hurt by the American airstrike, or he is trying to score a major propaganda coup against the Americans in the eyes of Arabs and Muslims."
In a direct taunt to Bush, Zawahri said, "Bush, do you know where I am? I am amidst the Muslim masses, enjoying what God blessed me with: their support, their care, their generosity, their protection."
"This kind of direct taunt is a very bold move for Zawahri," said Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism adviser and now an ABC News consultant. "He clearly feels he is well-protected, wherever he is."
As further evidence of how recently the tape was made, Zawahri also refers to the Jan. 19 audiotape from Osama bin Laden. In it, bin Laden threatened more attacks within the United States while also offering a truce to the world's leaders.
Your leaders responded "by saying that they don't negotiate with terrorists and that they're winning the war against terrorism," Zawahri says.
But White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett dismissed the significance of the tape.
"I think this type of frustration and venting you hear from them is an indication of the success we're having against them," he said.
ABC News' Hoda Osman and Jill Rackmilll contributed to this report.