Islamabad: Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri has described Pakistan, as a "government for sale and an Army for rent", and criticised Muslim governments in the Middle East and in Asia for failing to pursue the cause of political Islam.
Zawahri called on all Muslims to back the rebels in Syria, saying the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad would bring them closer to the ultimate goal of defeating Israel, reports The Express Tribune.
Zawahri said the US was propping up Assad because it feared the rise of another Islamist regime to threaten its ally Israel.
"Supporting jihad in Syria to establish a Muslim state is a basic step towards Jerusalem, and thus America is giving the secular Baathist regime one chance after another for fear that a government is established in Syria that would threaten Israel," he said.
More than 20,000 people have been killed in the 18-month uprising against Assad, who claims that his government is battling militants who want to set up an Islamist state. The protest started as a pro-democracy protest movement but has since turned into an armed conflict with sectarian aspects.
Zawahri, who took over as al Qaeda chief after Osama bin Laden was killed last year, said "the Islamic nation" needed to focus on the goal of helping to "liberate Palestine" - a reference to Israel and the occupied territories where there are zones of Palestinian self-rule.
He said governments should annul peace treaties with Israel, criticised Turkey, Iran and Arab governments in the Gulf, and ridiculed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for seeking peace with the Jewish state, the paper said.
First Published: Friday, September 14, 2012, 16:12