Ayman al-Zawahiri called for "a million free and noble people" to rise up against Pakistan's military leadership.
AFP/Getty Images/file
Ayman al-Zawahiri called for "a million free and noble people" to rise up against Pakistan's military leadership.

Story highlights

Ayman al-Zawahiri urges Pakistanis to join Arab Spring uprisings

He says in a video that Pakistan's leaders are "slaves to America"

Al-Zawahiri also makes a reference to a captured American citizen in Pakistan

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.

“Cannot a million free and noble people rise from amongst the Muslims of Pakistan to stage a protest against the generals of Pakistan army so as to force them to stop their treachery … by participating with America in its war against Islam, compel them to stop drone strikes and pressurize them to bring an end to army operations in the tribal areas?” al-Zawahiri says in the video, according to a translation by the Site Intelligence group, which monitors jihadi forums.

The video is not dated, but al-Zawahiri makes a reference to a U.S. airstrike in late November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers along the border with Afghanistan. The airstrike further eroded fragile relations between the United States and Pakistan.

Al-Zawahiri seizes on that relationship to argue for a countrywide revolt in Pakistan, pointing out that “partnership with America only leads to loss in this world and the hereafter.”

“O our people in Pakistan! The Arab world around you is surging in a wave of revolution. Tyrants and oppressive rulers are falling. Why are you not making any move? Why are you not deposing these tyrants? Why are you not toppling these treacherous bribe-takers?”

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.

In the video posted Friday, he also makes a reference to Warren Weinstein, a U.S. citizen who was captured in Pakistan in August.

“He will not return to his family, by the will of Allah, until our demands are met,” he says, calling for the release of Muslim prisoners such as the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdul Rahman and the relatives of bin Laden.

Al-Zawahiri made similar demands in December when he released a statement claiming responsibility for Weinstein’s kidnapping.