Al-Qaida chief urges Islamic rule in Libya
CAIRO (AP) — Al-Qaida's new leader called on Libyan fighters who overthrew Moammar Gadhafi to set up an Islamic state and urged Algerians to revolt against their longtime president in a new Internet video posted on Wednesday.
Ayman al-Zawahri warned Libyan revolutionaries to protect their gains against "Western plots," claiming NATO will demand they give up their Islamic faith as the country sets up a new government.
"The first thing NATO will ask you to do, is to give up your Islam and not to implement Islamic Sharia law," al-Zawahri said "They want the nonreligious and the atheists who don't accept Sharia to rule the Islamic world."
The 13-minute video entitled "And the defeats of Americans continue" was released by al-Qaida's media arm and surfaced on militant websites. It shows al-Zawahri, wearing a white robe and turban, sitting against a green backdrop.
Al-Zawahri, who is Egyptian, also urged Algerians to revolt against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and follow the examples of Arab uprisings that toppled the autocratic rulers in Egypt and Tunisia.
"Why don't you revolt against your tyranny, Algerian lions," al-Zawahri asked.
Al-Qaida has long opposed the regimes of autocratic Arab leaders the terror group views as godless, corrupt and too closely allied with the United States, and has called for the establishment of Islamic rule to replace their regimes.
However, the Arab Spring uprisings have largely been driven by those calling for freedom, human rights and democracy.
Al-Zawahri was Osama bin Laden's deputy and became head of al-Qaida in June after bin Laden's death in the May 2 raid by U.S. Navy SEALs in Pakistan.
In Wednesday's video, al-Zawahri also praised an August militant attack in southern Israel, when gunmen crossed from Egypt and killed eight Israelis near a Red Sea resort.