Al Qaeda leader Zawahiri calls for more Mohammad film protests

CAIRO Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:27am EDT

Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri speaks from an unknown location, in this still image taken from video uploaded on a social media website June 8, 2011. REUTERS/Social Media Website via Reuters TV

Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri speaks from an unknown location, in this still image taken from video uploaded on a social media website June 8, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Social Media Website via Reuters TV

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said a film made in the United States mocking the Prophet Mohammad showed Washington was waging a "crusader Zionist war" against Muslims and he called for more protests outside American embassies.

Like in other messages released by al Qaeda's Yemeni and North African branches last month, Zawahiri praised last month's assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed four diplomats but stopped short of claiming responsibility.

In the recording, posted on Islamist websites on Friday, he called on "free and distinguished zealots for Islam" who attacked the consulate and protested outside other American embassies to "continue their opposition to American crusader Zionist aggression against Islam and Muslims".

The recording appeared on the Mujahedin al-Ansar website which carries statements from al Qaeda leaders.

Zawahiri said U.S. authorities "permitted the film in the name of personal freedom and freedom of expression" but failed to practice those values in its treatment of Muslims imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama's administration condemned the short film, made privately and amateurishly in California, as reprehensible but said it could not be banned without violating the U.S. constitutional right to free speech.

The Guantanamo detention camp was set up after the September 11, 2001 attacks to hold non-American captives suspected of involvement with al Qaeda, the Taliban or other Islamist militant groups. Of the 779 men who were held there, 167 remain.

Zawahiri, an Egyptian-born preacher who became al Qaeda's chief after the death of Osama bin Laden last year, also criticized Obama after his Democratic Party pledged at its pre-election convention to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

He said that decision and Obama's prayers at Jerusalem's Western Wall, made during a 2008 visit, showed Muslims faced a "crusader Zionist war" led by the United States.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state they seek. Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its eternal, indivisible capital.

In September al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group's North African affiliate, praised the Benghazi attack and urged Muslims to kill more U.S. envoys.

Earlier last month, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), its Yemeni wing, called for more protests and said the Benghazi attackers had been partly motivated by the death of an AQAP leader in a U.S. drone strike.

(Reporting by Ali Abdellati; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (54)
TedW14 wrote:
This guy needs to spend a LOT more time on personal hygiene.

Oct 13, 2012 6:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
randburg100 wrote:
So …this one of the faces of the cowards who think its big & brave to try to kill school girls, the cowards who are TERRIFIED of women, the cowards who have a penchant for dressing up boys to dance for them, the cowards who use kids as suicide bombers – but are too chicken to do it themselves..I think he deserves a bacon sandwich!

Oct 13, 2012 7:38am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Thron wrote:
This request will sadly be viewed as good news to the Obama campaign because it gives their diversion video argument some credibility. Al Qaeda knows four more years of Obama has a lot of upside for their cause. Hell, Obama can not even put a administration together capable of protecting a Libyan consulate and CIA intelligence gathering station.

Oct 13, 2012 8:06am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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