Tue, Sep 30, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Tape accuses US of trying to eliminate Islam


An audiotape attributed to al-Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahri and broadcast on two Arab satellite channels Sunday accused the US 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 Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to India earlier this month and the Sept. 6 resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

"The crusade camp that is led by America and its allies from the infidels and hypocrites 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 voice said.

He said that "terrorism" is being equated with the Muslim's jihad (holy war). The voice identified as al-Zawahri urged Muslims to "resist this Jewish crusade."

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 said the station received a phone call from an unknown person saying they had a recording "that is of concern to you" and suggested the station tape the rest of the phone call.

Ballout would not say when the call was received. He said the station would broadcast only edited portions of the tape.

Al-Arabiya appeared to have aired more of the tape, which it said it "obtained" but did not explain how. The tape was poor quality but sounded like al-Zawahri's voice, though it could not be independently confirmed.

"I thus call for jihad 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.

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