Al-Qaeda's No 2 leader lashed out at US President-elect Barack Obama in a new audio recording released on Tuesday, blaming him for not doing anything to stop Israel's offensive in Gaza, according to an intelligence monitoring center. The audio recording was al-Qaeda's first comments on the Gaza offensive since Israel launched it on December 27.
In the audio comments, which were posted on a militant Web site and obtained by the SITE Monitoring Service, Ayman al-Zawahiri described Israel's actions in Gaza as a "crusade against Islam and Muslims" and "Obama's gift to Israel" before he takes office later this month.
"This is Obama whom the American machine of lies tried to portray as the rescuer who will change the policy of America," al-Zawahiri said, according to SITE. "He kills your brothers and sisters in Gaza mercilessly and without affection." Al-Zawahiri, who is Egyptian, was also critical of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, describing him as a "traitor" for keeping Egypt's border with the militant Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip closed.
"At the time when Israeli planes drop their bombs from the air, he closes the borders with his forces so that the plan of the killing of believers in Gaza is fulfilled," al-Zawahiri said, according to SITE.
He urged Egyptians and Muslims around the world to pressure Mubarak into opening the border and to take a more active role in fighting Israel. Thousands of people in cities worldwide have held mass street demonstrations to protest Israel's offensive, but al-Zawahiri said those were not enough.
"Fight the Zionist Crusader campaign," said al-Zawahiri, according to SITE. "Strike its interests everywhere you can reach them. Support and back your mujahideen brothers and children against them."
The audio recording was accompanied by a still photograph of the al-Qaeda leader sitting with a gun in his lap. The recording could not be immediately verified, but SITE said it was posted on Web sites commonly used by Islamic militants. The recording also carried the logo for al-Qaeda's media production house, Al-Sahab.