Musharraf Faces Challenges, Threats
Osama bin Laden called on Pakistanis to wage a jihad against their president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in a new recording released Thursday that labeled the military ruler an infidel for sending troops into a mosque where Islamic extremists were hiding.
The storming of the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July "demonstrated Musharraf's insistence on continuing his loyalty, submissiveness and aid to America against the Muslims ... and makes armed rebellion against him and removing him obligatory," bin Laden said in the message.
"So when the capability is there, it is obligatory to rebel against the apostate ruler, as is the case now," he said.
The Pakistani military stormed the Red Mosque after it became a stronghold for Islamic militants and at least 102 people were killed in the fighting, including one of the militants' leaders, Abdul Rashid Ghazi. The siege was followed by a series of suicide bombings in retaliation.
Bin Laden's voice was heard over video showing previously released footage of the terror leader. The video was released Thursday on Islamic militant Web sites and first reported by Laura Mansfield, an American terrorism expert who monitors militant message traffic.
He quoted fatwas, or religious edits, from hard-line Islamic scholars on the duty to overthrow infidel rulers.
"So Pervez, his ministers, his soldiers and those who help him are all accomplices in the spilling the blood of those of the Muslims who have been killed. He who helps him knowingly and willingly is an infidel like him," bin Laden said.
The message, titled "Come to Jihad," was the third from bin Laden this month in a flurry of videos and audiotapes marking the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad, a Pakistani army spokesman, said the army will continue its fight against terrorism, regardless of any threats.
"We have the aim and objective, as our national duty, to eliminate terrorists and eradicate extremism. The Pakistan army will continue to carry out its role against terrorists wherever they are found, whether in the tribal areas (of northwest Pakistan) or elsewhere."
State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the message was "not surprising" since Pakistan is an ally to the U.S. in the fight against terrorism.
Earlier Thursday, al-Qaida released an 80-minute documentary-style video that featured bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, who boasted that the United States was being defeated in Afghanistan, Iraq and other fronts. Speakers in the video promised more fighting in Afghanistan, North Africa and Sudan's Darfur region.
The messages are part of a stepped-up propaganda campaign by al-Qaida around the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Earlier this month, bin Laden released two messages — including his first new appearance in a video in nearly three years.
In the first video, Al-Zawahri began by condemning the Red Mosque raid and he paid tribute to Abdul Rashid Ghazi.
The siege "revealed the extent of the despicableness, lowliness and treason of Musharraf and his forces, who don't deserve the honor of defending Pakistan, because Pakistan is a Muslim land, whereas the forces of Musharraf are hunting dogs under (President) Bush's crucifix," al-Zawahri said.
Bin Laden and al-Zawahri are thought to be hiding in the lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, where many analysts believe they have rebuilt al-Qaida's core leadership.
Al-Zawahri called for attacks on French and Spanish interests in North Africa and on U.N. and African peacekeepers expected to deploy in Sudan's wartorn Darfur region.
"What they claim to be the strongest power in the history of mankind is today being defeated in front of the Muslim vanguards of jihad six years after the two raids on New York and Washington," al-Zawahri said, speaking in what appeared to be an office, with shelves of religious books and an automatic rifle leaning against them.
"The Crusaders themselves have testified to their defeat in Afghanistan at the hands of the lions of the Taliban," he said.
"The Crusaders have testified to their own defeat in Iraq at the hands of the mujahideen, who have taken the battle of Islam to the heart of the Islam world."
Al-Zawahri called on supporters in North Africa to "cleanse the Maghrib (western region) of Islam of the children of France and Spain ... Stand with your sons the mujahideen against the Crusaders and their children."
In the video, bin Laden also condemns Arab Gulf governments that have allied themselves with the United States, saying they have "sold the Islamic nation, colluded with the enemies of Islam and backed the infidels. And this is the greater form of being an infidel ... But Allah permitting, they shall leave the Gulf under the blows of the mujahideen."
From NPR reports and The Associated Press