Date: 9/29/2003


Arabic satellite television broadcast on Sunday an audio tape purporting to come from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, in which he urged Pakistanis to overthrow President Pervez Musharraf for "betraying" Islam.

The speaker on the tape, aired by Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya channels, also urged Muslims around the world to fight what Zawahri called the Christian-Zionist crusade "aimed at eradicating Islam and Muslims".

It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the tape, which appeared to be recent because it blasted India for hosting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon earlier this month.

It was the latest in a series of audio and video tapes released to the media since the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities for which Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda is widely blamed. Zawahri is bin Laden's right-hand man.

The voice on the tape blasted the Pakistani president for aiding Washington in its war in Afghanistan against al Qaeda and the Taliban, and accused him of planning to send Muslim troops to Iraq "to be killed instead of American soldiers".

"Muslims in Pakistan must unite to oust this traitor and put in place a loyal leadership in Pakistan which defends Islam and Muslims," the speaker said.

Pakistani security forces have cooperated closely with U.S. forces to hunt for bin Laden and other al Qaeda members in border areas where many believe they are hiding.

Washington has also named Pakistan as one of four countries it is looking to for significant troop contingents to relieve the burden on U.S. troops in Iraq who face almost daily attacks.

Musharraf has said Pakistan needs a U.N. mandate, an assurance that other Muslim troops would join and the consent of the Iraqi people.

Zawahri appeared with bin Laden in a videotape aired this month to mark the September 11 attacks. The two men urged fighters to turn Iraq into a graveyard for U.S. troops, and Zawahri vowed more attacks to "punish" the United States.


The tape broadcast on Sunday did not make any direct threats against the United States.

"The Christian crusade led by America and its infidel allies targets Islam and its people even if it claims to fight terror, for terrorism for them is jihad (holy struggle). This crusade aims to eradicate Islam, enslave its people and make them the cattle of Washington, Tel Aviv and London," the speaker said.

"Therefore Muslims must consult, address their affairs and put their faith in God to fight this Christian-Zionist crusade which aims to eradicate Islam and Muslims," he added.

The tape also slammed a U.S. congressional report on the September 11 attacks with a classified section on whether there was Saudi support for the hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudis.

"The section which the U.S. government classified...contains a proposal to prevent the Saudi government from printing and distributing copies of the holy Koran because it contains verses calling for hatred of Jews and Christians," the voice said.

"The U.S. arrogance and crime has reached such an extent."

President George W. Bush has rejected Saudi requests to declassify the report on the grounds that it would compromise intelligence. Riyadh, birthplace of bin Laden, has criticised the report and says it has nothing to hide.