Bin Laden deputy says Musharraf is a traitor

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An audiotape attributed to al-Qa'ida deputy Ayman al-Zawahri and broadcast on two Arab satellite channels yesterday accused America of trying to abolish Islam.

The tape, aired in excerpts on Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, appeared to be recent; the speaker referred to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to India this month and the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

"The crusade camp that is led by America and its allies from the infidels and hypocrites is targeting Islam and Muslims, even if it claims that it is fighting terrorism. This campaign is seeking to abolish Islam as a doctrine and a law," the voice said. What the West calls terrorism is the Muslim's jihad, he added. The voice, identified as that of al-Zawahri urged Muslims to "resist this Jewish crusade".

The speaker added: "All that bin Laden did was take revenge against America for all it has done against Muslims," the speaker said. He also referred to a US Congressional report on the 11 September attacks. Parts of it that were kept secret reportedly examined Saudi connections to al-Qa'ida.

"The part ... contained a recommendation calling for the Saudi government to be barred from printing and distributing the holy Koran. Why? Because it contains verses that incite hatred of Jews and Christians."

He also called Israelis arrogant, and Mr Sharon was "the killer of Muslims and desecrator of the sanctity of al-Aqsa mosque". In another excerpt, he turned on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. "[He] is the one who enabled America to end the Islamic emirate in Afghanistan. Without him, America would not have been able to do that. He ... knows he cannot remain in power without the crusader's consent." (AP)