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New tape says U.S. aiming at Islam

CAIRO, Egypt — An audiotape attributed to al-Qaida deputy Ayman al-Zawahri and broadcast on two Arab satellite channels Sunday accused the United States of trying to abolish Islam.

The tape, aired in excerpts on Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, appeared to be recent, as the speaker referred to a visit by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to India earlier this month and the Sept. 6 resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

The voice sounded like al-Zawahri’s. In Washington, a CIA spokeswoman said the agency has a technical analysis of the tape under way to determine its authenticity.

“The crusade camp that is led by America … is targeting Islam and Muslims, even if it claims that it is fighting terrorism. … This campaign is seeking to abolish Islam as a doctrine and a law,” the speaker said.

He said that what the West calls terrorism is jihad. He urged Muslims to “resist this Jewish crusade.”

“I thus call for jihad (holy war) against this campaign that seeks to end Islam as a doctrine and law and turn us into a herd that follows the lords of Washington, Tel Aviv and London,” the speaker said.

The content of the speech, including the provocative wording, was similar to previous recordings attributed to al-Zawahri. He did not threaten imminent attacks.

Al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout told The Associated Press the station received a telephone call from an unknown person saying they had a recording “that is of concern to you.” Ballout would not say when the call was received.

He said the station would broadcast only portions of the tape. Al-Arabiya appeared to have aired more of the tape, which it said it “obtained” but did not explain how.

Editor-in-chief Salah Nejm told the AP that the station received the tape shortly before they broadcast it yesterday. He would not comment on where and how the station obtained the tape.

He said that they only showed “parts that have news value.”

In the tape he also referred to a U.S. Congressional report on the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Parts of the report not released to the public reportedly examined Saudi Arabia’s connections to al-Qaida.

“The part of the U.S. Congress report about the incidents of Sept. 11, which the U.S. government banned from publishing, contained a recommendation calling for the Saudi government to be barred from printing and distributing the holy Quran. Why• Because it contains verses that incite hatred of Jews and Christians.”

He also criticized Israelis as arrogant, particularly “the Jewish criminal Sharon, who killed thousands of Muslims, and desecrator of the sanctity of al-Aqsa mosque.”

“His visit to India and the deals that he made with India … such idiocy,” the voice said.

He warned against “an American, Jewish, and Indian alliance against Muslims.”

In excerpts aired later, the speaker turned his condemnation to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

“Musharraf is the one who enabled America to end the Islamic emirate in Afghanistan. Without him America would not have been able to do that,” the speaker said.

Al-Zawahri urged Muslims in Pakistan “to unite and cooperate to uproot this traitor and to install a faithful leadership in Pakistan that would defend Islam and Muslims.”

Al-Jazeera has been criticized by the United States for airing tapes from al-Qaida leaders and Saddam Hussein. The U.S. government says such tapes might contain coded messages and incite attacks.


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