Zawahiri backs Syria uprising in new video

AFP , Sunday 12 Feb 2012

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri calls on 'Lions of Syria' to resist regime, Muslims to help Syrian uprising

Ayman al-Zawahiri, (Photo: Reuters).

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri has voiced his support for the Syrian uprising in a new video message released on jihadist Internet forums, US monitors said Sunday.

In the video titled "Onwards, Lions of Syria", Zawahiri criticised the Syrian regime for crimes against its citizens, and praised those rising up against the government, SITE Intelligence Group said.

Zawahiri, shown in front of a green curtain in the eight-minute video released Saturday, urged Syrians not to rely on Western or Arab governments, which he said would impose a new regime subservient to the West.

"Don't depend on the West or America, or the Arab governments and Turkey," he said, according to the SITE translation. "(They) had deals, mutual understanding and sharing with this regime for decades.

"Depend on Allah alone and then on your sacrifices, resistance and steadfastness," he added.

He called on Muslims to support the uprising and remove the current regime which he condemned as anti-Islam.

"I appeal to every Muslim and every free, honourable one in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, to rise to help his brothers in Syria with all that he can," Zawahiri was quoted as saying.

The Al-Qaeda leader described the government of President Bashar Al-Assad as a "pernicious, cancerous regime that suffocates the free people in Syria."

Since March last year, Assad's regime has waged a bloody crackdown on an uprising in which more than 6,000 people have been killed.

Arab League foreign ministers were to meet in Cairo on Sunday to discuss their next move in the crisis.

Long Al-Qaeda's number two, Zawahiri took over the helm of the group after Osama bin Laden was killed in May 2011 in a US special forces night raid deep in Pakistan.

Al-Qaeda has been absent from the popular protests that swept the Arab world last year, leading to the ouster of autocratic, secular leaders in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, and sparking unrest elsewhere.

Analysts say the uprisings have left the worldwide jihadist movement weakened and increasingly irrelevant.

But a US media report citing unnamed American officials said Al-Qaeda's Iraqi branch was likely to have carried out bombings in Syria's second-largest city Aleppo on Friday which killed 28 people and wounded 235, as well as attacks in Damascus in December and January.

The attacks appeared to verify Assad's charges of Al-Qaeda involvement in the uprising against his 11-year rule, said the McClatchy Newspapers chain.

The United States said last year that it believes Zawahiri, who has been in hiding since Washington declared a "war on terror" after the September 11, 2001 attacks, was still in Pakistan.

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