Zawahiri calls on Pak to fight Musharraf | india | Hindustan Times
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Zawahiri calls on Pak to fight Musharraf

The Al-Qaeda number two called on the people and army in Pakistan to fight Musharraf's regime.

india Updated: Apr 29, 2006 11:24 IST

Al-Qaeda kept up its media offensive on Saturday as its number two Ayman al-Zawahiri called on the people and army of Pakistan to fight the regime of President Pervez Musharraf.

"I call on the people of Pakistan to work to remove this traitor from power...and I call on every officer and soldier in the Pakistani army to disobey their commanders' orders to kill Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan," he said in a video released on a website.

In the third message from the organisation in a week Zawahiri said, "Musharraf was prepared to flee abroad where he had bank accounts when the popular revolution breaks out."

According to the video the "message to the people of Pakistan" was recorded after the third anniversary of the fall of the regime of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2003.

It followed an audiotape broadcast on Al-Jazeera television last Sunday in which Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden called on Muslim fighters to go to Sudan to wage war against "crusader thieves" and slammed the international isolation of the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

The tape was the first from bin Laden since January 19.

Then two days later Al-Qaeda's Iraq frontman Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has a 25-million-dollar US bounty on his head, expressed new defiance toward Washington and Iraq's new leaders in his first reported public appearance since he emerged as one of the world's most wanted militants.

There had previously been only audiotapes of Zarqawi, while the US military obtained photos of Zarqawi in February 2005 during a military operation outside Ramadi in western Iraq, which is considered a haunt of the radical Islamist.

In Zawahiri's message posted on Friday he lashed out at Musharraf, a key ally in the US-led "war on terror", who last month warned foreign insurgents to leave the tribal belt or be killed.

"Musharraf is fighting Islam in Pakistan...threatens national security in Pakistan...has placed Pakistan's nuclear programme under American, therefore Jewish and Indian, control," he said.

He pointed to a visit by US President George W Bush in March, in which he signed a controversial nuclear agreement with Pakistan's arch rival India.

"He give a strong impetus to the Indian nuclear programme, while doling out orders to Pakistan," he said.

The landmark deal clinched on March 2 by Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would allow India, which is not a signatory of the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), access to long-denied civilian nuclear technology in return for placing a majority of its atomic reactors under international safeguards.

Washington refuses to accord similar treatment to other countries, including Pakistan.

Zawahiri also lashed out in his message at the United States, Britain, and the governments of Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

"Three years after the invasion of Iraq by the crusaders, America, Britain and their allies have only registered losses, catastrophes and misfortunes," Zawahiri said.

"Al-Qaeda in (Iraq) alone has carried out 800 suicide operations in three years," Zawahiri said.

In a separate video broadcast on the internet on Saturday an Al-Qaeda member called on "Afghan Arabs" who had fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan to join up with Bin Laden to take on US forces there.

"I call on the fighters who fought the Russians on this sacred ground to return to the country and to join up with Sheikh Osama bin Laden and their brothers," Saudi Mohammad al-Qahtani said in the video statement released on the internet.

Qahtani was one of four Al-Qaeda members who escaped from the US Bagram airbase in Afghanistan last July.

The escape of the four men, described by the US army as "dangerous combatants", is a source of embarrassment at the main US base in Afghanistan.