DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda carried out the July suicide bombings in London to strike at "British arrogance", the group's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri said in a video tape aired on Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera on Monday.
"The London attack is one of the attacks that al Qaeda ... had the honour of carrying out against ... British arrogance, the aggression of the crusader British against the Muslim nation for over a hundred years," Zawahri said.
He denounced Britain for "the historical crime of setting up Israel and the continuing crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"These and other attacks have revealed the true hypocritical face of Western civilisation that talks about human rights and freedom only as long as it is in its interest," he said, citing the planned toughening of British security laws after the London blasts.
Zawahri denounced the elections in Afghanistan, saying they were not free and carried out under U.S. occupation. "These elections are a farce more than anything else," he said.
He insisted that the Taliban were still powerful and said U.S. forces had to "hide" in their bases.
Al Jazeera said the tape was prepared by al Qaeda's media group al-Sahab, which distributes Islamic militant videos on the Internet, to mark the fourth anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001, attacks.
The video, excerpts of which were aired by the television, had English subtitles and showed Zawahri apparently talking to an off-camera interviewer.
Zawahri, Osama bin Laden's right-hand man, denounced reforms promoted by the United States, saying Washington would not tolerate independent Islamic governments.
"The Americans will not allow any Islamic system to come to power even in the heart of the Muslim world unless it collaborates with them," said Zawahri, who wore a black turban and a white robe.