CAIRO, Egypt, (AP) – Al-Qaeda’s No. 2 leader lashed out at President-elect Barack Obama in a new audio message Tuesday, accusing him of not doing anything to stop Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip, according to an intelligence monitoring center.
The recording purportedly by Ayman al-Zawahiri was al-Qaeda’s first comments on the Gaza crisis since Israel launched its offensive against the Islamic militants of Hamas on Dec. 27.
In the comments, which were posted on a militant Web site and obtained by the SITE Monitoring Service, al-Zawahiri described Israel’s actions in Gaza as a “crusade against Islam and Muslims” and called it “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, also criticized Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, calling him a “traitor” for keeping Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip closed since Hamas seized power.
“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,” al-Zawahiri said, according to SITE. “Strike its interests everywhere you can reach them. Support and back your mujahedeen brothers and children against them.”
The audio message 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.