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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- An audiotape that surfaced Friday, purportedly by al-Qaida's second-in-command, urged Muslim youths to carry out pre-emptive strikes against the United States and its allies.
The tape, aired by Al-Jazeera television, identified the speaker as Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian-born confidant of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's. After a technical analysis, a U.S. intelligence official said authorities were able to determine with "high confidence" that the voice was that of al-Zawahri.
Less than a month ago, a videotape showed al-Zawahri proclaiming the United States would be defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The tape aired Friday urged young Muslims to fight on even if al-Qaida leaders were killed or captured.
"You, youth of Islam, this is our message," the speaker said. "If we die or are detained, continue the path after us, and don't betray God and his prophet."
Dia'a Rashwan, an expert on Islamic militants, played down the significance of such remarks.
"According to his belief, being killed is normal and expected, especially in his case," Rashwan said. "This is not the first time he has said this. It doesn't mean they are close to being captured or killed."
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