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Al Qaeda leader calls for Afghans to rise up against Western troops

From Amir Ahmed, CNN
updated 4:06 AM EDT, Fri March 23, 2012
Ayman al-Zawahiri called for
Ayman al-Zawahiri called for "a million free and noble people" to rise up against Pakistan's military leadership.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The message is the second in a week from the al Qaeda leader
  • It runs more than 11 minutes long
  • The message was posted to jihadist websites Wednesday

(CNN) -- Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri calls on Afghans to rise up against Western troops -- especially American forces -- in their country and back the Taliban, according to a recent audio message posted on jihadist web forums Wednesday.

The message, running more than 11 minutes in length, condemns the values of "crusader secular Western civilization" and follows a series of acts by American soldiers in Afghanistan that have been heavily publicized, including U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of slain insurgents.

"This act represents their values," al-Zawahiri says,"and this is their view toward other people in general and the Muslims in particular, and this is their way of treating us."

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Other events inflaming Muslim passions included the accidental burning of Qurans by U.S. troops and a shooting spree by an American soldier that left 16 Afghan civilians dead. The United States has apologized for the acts.

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"Honorable Afghans, the way is clear! It is either to stand by the banner of Islam to fight and support the Mujahideen using your hand, tongue, money and heart," the al Qaeda leader says. "Or you will be humiliated in this life and be punished in the hereafter."

The message is the second in a week's time from al-Zawahiri.

In a video released Friday, he called on Pakistanis to join the Arab Spring uprisings and revolt against their government, saying the country's leaders are "slaves of America."

The comments refer to the Arab Spring, the pro-democracy movement that swept through North Africa and the Middle East in 2011, toppling longtime rulers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and threatening President Bashar al-Assad's rule in Syria.

Al-Zawahiri, 60, was appointed the leader of al Qaeda in June, less than two months after a U.S. raid killed Osama bin Laden in his compound in Pakistan.

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