CNN, August 11, 2008
Message calls for Pakistanis to support the jihadist movement
CNN cannot confirm authenticity of audio message released by al-Sahab
It's believed to be the first English-language message from al Qaeda's No. 2
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- In what's believed to be the first English-language message from al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri criticizes Pakistan's leadership and calls for Pakistanis to support the jihadist movement.
The audio message was released by al Qaeda's production arm, al-Sahab, and initially aired on Pakistan's ARY channel. CNN could not independently verify its authenticity, and it was unclear when the message was recorded.
"Let there be no doubt in your minds that the dominant political forces at work in Pakistan today are competing to appease and please the modern day crusaders in the White House and are working to destabilize this nuclear-capable nation under the aegis of America," the message says.
It's the first official message released by al-Sahab in which al-Zawahiri, a native of Egypt, speaks English, said Ben Venzke, head of IntelCenter, a Washington-based company that monitors and analyzes militant messages.
The speaker, purportedly al-Zawahiri, says he is speaking English to "directly" address the Pakistani people, who generally speak Urdu.
The message also mentioned last year's deadly raid on Islamabad's Red Mosque. More than 100 people died there when security forces stormed the mosque in July 2007, ending a week-long standoff between military forces and Islamic extremists.
This year, a suicide bomber killed at least 17 people just blocks from a massive rally commemorating the first anniversary of the raid.
Most of those killed in the raid were radical students holed up inside, but the dead also included some women and children.
"Don't allow the fruits of the victory achieved through the sacrifices of the Mujahedeen fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and the tribal belt of Pakistan to be hijacked by the politicians who sat passively while the girls and boys of .... the Red Mosque perished and burned," the message says.
"These are the same politicians who follow the tenets of an alien Western democratic system and judiciary and exploit Islam to fulfill their own greedy aims."
The U.S. State Department has offered a $25 million reward for Al-Zawahiri. He has delivered numerous messages on audio and video urging militants to continue the fight against the United States.
He narrowly escaped death in an attack in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan in 2001that left his wife and children dead.
He was imprisoned for his involvement in the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
Pakistan TV network censored Al-Qaeda deputy's video - AFP
Zawahri assails president - Dawn