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Al Qaeda Claims to Have 12,000 Fighters in Iraq

Al Qaeda in Iraq's purported leader vowed on Friday that his fighters would never rest until they have reached Jerusalem and destroy the White House.

In the audio tape made available on a militant web site, a man introduced as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir said Al Qaeda has 12,000 fighters at the ready in Iraq.

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

The "olive trees of Rumieh" appeared to be a reference to the Mount of Olive in Jerusalem, or Christendom in general as a continuation of the Roman empire.

Also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, al-Muhajir became the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed by the U.S. military in June.

Though the voice on the tape identified itself as al-masri, there were no means to independently verify this.

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Describing George W. Bush as "the most stupid president" in U.S. history, the Al Qaeda leader reached out to the Muslim world and said his group was winning faster than expected in Iraq.

The U.S. president's policy had enabled the militant group to achieve their goal of fighting more Americans, said the Al Qaeda leader.

"We call the lame duck (Bush) not to hurry up in escaping the same way the defense minister did," he said, referring to the removal of Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary following the Democrats' victory in Midterm elections.

"They are getting ready to leave, because they are no longer capable of staying," the Al Qaeda leader said.

"Remain steadfast in the battlefield you coward," he called on the U.S president.