DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda’s second-in-command urged Egyptians not to be seduced by the ‘polished words’ of what he called the criminal Barack Obama when the U.S. President makes a speech in Cairo seeking to repair ties with the Muslim world.
“O, Egypt’s free, righteous and honorable people and mujahideen; stand united in the face of this criminal,” Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian, said in an audio recording posted on an al Qaeda-linked Islamist website.
“(Obama’s) bloody messages have been received and are still being received and they will not be concealed by public relations campaigns or theatrical visits or polished words.”
Obama has chosen Egypt to make an address to the Islamic world that he had promised for early in his presidency. He will seek to dispel resentments inflamed by U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington by militant Islamists.
The ‘war against terror’ waged by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush was seen by critics in the Muslim world as an anti-Islamic campaign. Obama, with his markedly more reserved style, seeks to rid himself of that burden while enlisting the support of Arab countries in confronting Islamist militancy.
He is also moving to close the Guantanamo bay detention center, a focus of anger in the Muslim world.
“The speech will outline his personal commitment to engagement, based upon mutual interests and mutual respect,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. “He will discuss how the United States and Muslim communities around the world can bridge some of the differences that have divided them.”
Zawahri said Obama, whose father was a Muslim and who lived in Indonesia as a boy, was not welcome in Egypt.
“Does (a group of) people in Egypt, who are raging flames and fuel, hear my cry,” he said, reciting a poem composed during the British occupation of the North African country.
“(Obama) came seeking, through a ploy, to win what he had failed to acquire in the battlefield. After the mujahideen foiled America’s crusader projects in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.”
A video accompanying the recording showed a still photograph of Zawahri and footage of Obama on a visit to Israel, alongside an extract from a speech in which he pledged commitment to the security of the Jewish state.
The success of Obama’s diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East, such as promoting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and halting Iran’s nuclear program, may hinge on how well Obama is able to improve broader U.S. relations with the Islamic world.
Listing famous Egyptian Islamic and national figures and militants, Zawahri included one of the 19 al Qaeda suicide bombers who carried out the 2001 attacks on U.S. cities and the assassin who killed Anwar al-Sadat, the Egyptian President who signed Cairo’s peace deal with Israel.
Reporting by Inal Ersan; Editing by Ralph Boulton
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