By Lee Keath, AP
CAIRO, Egypt — Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden called on Pakistanis to rebel against President Pervez Musharraf in a new recording released on Thursday, saying his military’s siege of a militant mosque stronghold this year makes him an infidel.
The storming of the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July “demonstrated Musharraf’s insistence on continuing his loyalty, submissiveness and aid to America against the Muslims … and makes armed rebellion against him and removing him obligatory,” bin Laden said in the tape.
“So when the capability is there, it is obligatory to rebel against the apostate ruler, as is the case now,” he said.
Bin Laden’s voice was heard over video showing previously released footage of the terror leader. The video was released Thursday on Islamic militant Web sites and first reported by Laura Mansfield, an American terror expert who monitors militant message traffic.
The message, titled “Come to Jihad,” was the third from bin Laden this month in a flurry of videos and audiotapes marking the 6th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
Earlier on Thursday, al-Qaida released an 80-minute documentary-style video that had a new speech from bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, who boasted that the United States was being defeated in Afghanistan, Iraq and other fronts. Speakers in the video promised more fighting in Afghanistan, North Africa and Sudan’s Darfur region.
The Pakistani military stormed the Red Mosque after it became a stronghold for Islamic militants, and at least 102 people were killed in the fighting, including one of the militants’ leaders, Abdul Rashid Ghazi. The siege was followed by a series of suicide bombings in retaliation.
In his tape, bin Laden said Ghazi and his followers were killed for seeking the application of Sharia Islamic law, and he condemned Musharraf for allying himself with the United States in the fight against al-Qaida. He quoted fatwas, or religious edits, from hardline Islamic scholars on the duty to overthrow infidel rulers.
“So Pervez, his ministers, his soldiers and those who help him are all accomplices in the spilling the blood of those of the Muslims who have been killed. He who helps him knowingly and willingly is an infidel like him,” bin Laden said. The tape was also released in Urdu and Pashtu versions, two main languages in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In Islamabad, Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen Waheed Arshad said “Such threats issued through videos or in any other way cannot deter us from fulfilling our national duty.”
“We have the aim and objective, as our national duty, to eliminate terrorists and eradicate extremism,” Arshad said.
U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said the message was “not surprising” since bin Laden seek Pakistan as an ally to the U.S. “in the fight against his kind of extremism.”
Al-Qaida leaders have often railed against Musharraf and have urged Pakistanis to rise up against him in past messages — but the call from bin Laden now may be aimed at adding weight to the rallying cry. The Pakistani president has come under four assassination attempts since 2002.
Bin Laden and al Zawahri are thought to be hiding in the lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, where many analysts believe they have rebuilt al-Qaida’s core leadership.