Dubai: Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri
has slammed Turkey`s "ties" with Israel and its role in
Afghanistan, urging it to restore the traditional role of the
former Ottoman Empire, in an audio message posted on Islamist
"Change will come when the Turkish people ask their
government to stop cooperating with Israel and recognising it
and to stop sending their forces to kill Muslims in
Afghanistan," a man identified today as Zawahiri by US
monitoring group SITE said in the 20-minute audio tape.
The Turkish government "appears to sympathise with the
Palestinians through statements and by sending some relief
aid, while it actually recognises Israel, engages in trade,
carries out military training and shares information with
it," Zawahiri said.
The authenticity of the statement in which Zawahiri began
by offering condolences to the families of those who were
killed as well as to the Turkish people could not immediately
Israeli commandos on May 31 raided a Gaza-bound flotilla
of six ships loaded with aid trying to run the the blockade of
Gaza in an operation in which nine Turkish activists were
The bloodshed triggered international criticism of Israel
and dealt a heavy blow to Turkish-Israeli ties.
Zawahiri in his message compared Turkey to Israel, saying
that while the Turkish government "makes statements
criticising Israeli crimes against Muslims in Gaza ... it
commits similar crimes against Muslims in Afghanistan."
The Turkish government and army "have become tools in the
hands of the world`s crusaders," Zawahiri said.
In Afghanistan, Turkish forces "are assuming the
leadership of the NATO ... participating in killing Muslims
and burning down their villages and houses," he charged.