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Purported Zawahri tape says Musharraf appeases US PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 August 2008

ISLAMABAD, Mon Aug 11,( - An audio tape purportedly made by al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al Zawahri has accused Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and other politicians of trying to destabilize Pakistan at the behest of the United States.

The English-language tape was dropped off by an unidentified man at an office of Pakistan's ARY One television channel on Saturday, the station's news director said, but its authenticity could not be immediately verified.

An Arab journalist based in Islamabad who has met Zawahri said it appeared to be the al Qaeda deputy leader's voice.

"I want to speak to you today regarding the miserable condition to which Pakistan has deteriorated," the voice believed to be Zawahri's says in what would be his first English-language message.

Excerpts of the tape were obtained by Reuters on Monday.

"Let there be no doubt in your minds that dominant political forces at work in Pakistan today are competing to appease ... the modern-day crusaders in the White House and are working to destabilize this nuclear-capable nation under the aegis of America," Zawahri said.

The whereabouts of Zawahri and al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden have not been known since U.S.-led forces launched a hunt for them in Afghanistan after the al Qaeda attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001.

Both are believed to hiding somewhere along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

In the excerpts of the tape obtained by Reuters and aired by the television channel, Zawahri did not say why Musharraf might want to destabilize the country. Zawahri has in the past called for him to be overthrown.

It was not clear when the tape was recorded but it was the first attributed to Zawahri to be released since he was rumored to have been killed or wounded in a suspected U.S. missile strike in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal region last month.

U.S. television network CBS News based its report early this month on a copy of an intercepted letter from Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud requesting a doctor be sent to treat the wounded Zawahri.

The Taliban in Pakistani denied the report and the Pakistani military has said it had no such information. Intelligence officials and security analysts also dismissed the report.

In the message, Zawahri accused Musharraf of making disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan a "scapegoat" to appease the United States.

Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, has been under house arrest since confessing in a televised address in 2004 to smuggling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

Zawahri also criticized Musharraf for ordering an army assault on Islamabad's militant Red Mosque complex in July 2007.

Baker Atyani, the regional bureau chief of the Al Arabiya television channel, who met the Egyptian Zawahri in June 2001, said the tape appeared to be genuine.

"I know his voice. I have heard his English. It's his accent. It's an Egyptian accent," he said.

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