By Rachel Hirshfeld | INN
The leader of Al Qaeda is urging Muslims to wage holy war against Israel and the United States in response to the film that insulted Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
Ayman al-Zawahri, in an audio message released by Al Qaeda’s media arm As-Sahab early Saturday, claimed Washington allowed the film’s production under the pretext of freedom of expression, but added that “this freedom did not prevent them from torturing Muslim prisoners.”
While the widespread protests that have erupted throughout the Arab world were originally blamed on the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims,” the allegation has long been disproven and the film was merely a timely and convenient excuse for renewed Muslim violence.
In Saturday’s audio recording, Al-Zawahri praised “honest and zealous” demonstrators who attacked the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.
Meanwhile, officials say that Al-Qaeda is rebuilding in Iraq and has set up training camps for insurgents in the nation’s western deserts as the terrorist group seizes on regional instability and government security failures to regain strength.
Iraq has seen an increase in al-Qaeda attacks over the last 10 weeks, and officials believe most of the fighters are former prisoners who have either escaped from jail or were released by Iraqi authorities for lack of evidence after the U.S. military withdrawal last December. Many are said to be Saudi or from Sunni-dominated Gulf states.