DUBAI (Reuters) – Al Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri urged Afghans in an Internet video to fight foreign troops in their country whom he said had a history of denigrating Islam.
The 3-minute video, which was posted on Thursday on a Web site often used by militant groups, showed Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man speaking directly to the camera with an automatic rifle propped up behind him.
There was no indication when it was made, but its posting coincides with some of the bloodiest violence in Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban government in 2001, with almost 1,000 violent deaths this year, including 47 American troops and 18 other foreign soldiers.
“Muslim brothers in Afghanistan, and especially in Kabul, stand as one with the mujahideen (Muslim fighters) so that the invading forces might be expelled,” he said, referring to the Islamist militias such as the Taliban and al Qaeda that are battling U.S. and other foreign troops in Afghanistan.
“Don’t trust these infidel invaders or their agents who want to transform you into oppressed, enslaved people,” he said.
“Therefore, I call on the Muslims in Kabul and Afghanistan, to stand united for the sake of God before the invading forces … I urge them to confront the infidel occupation and to do their duty toward defending their faith and honor.”
An international force led by NATO is preparing to move into the southern heartland of the Taliban, which will allow the United States to pull out about 3,000 of the 23,000 troops it has in Afghanistan.
In the video, Zawahri cited unspecified U.S. “aggressions” in Afghan cities as examples of foreign “crimes against Islam” and mentioned what he called the “ridiculing of our holy Prophet by the Italian, Danish and French,” referring to the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad which caused an uproar earlier this year.
Zawahri last appeared on a video aired by Arabic satellite television Al Jazeera on June 9, in which he urged Palestinians to boycott a referendum on a statehood proposal that implicitly recognizes Israel.