(photo credit: AP [file])
Al-Qaida's deputy leader on Tuesday criticized US President Barack Obama's upcoming speech to the Islamic world in Cairo, saying it will not change the "bloody messages" the US military is sending Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Al-Qaida has repeatedly lashed out at Obama since he was elected, which some analysts believe indicates the terrorist organization is worried he will be effective in improving the US image in the Muslim world. Obama has pitched his speech at Cairo University on Thursday as a key part of that process.
"His bloody messages were received and are still being received by Muslims, and they will not be concealed by public relations campaigns or by farcical visits or elegant words," said Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida's No. 2, in a new audiotape posted on militant Web sites.
Zawahri said the Egyptian officials who will welcome Obama are US "slaves" and have turned the country into an "international station of torture in America's war on Islam." He was likely referring to suspected Islamic militants who have been captured by the US and sent to Egypt for interrogation, a process known as rendition.
Zawahri urged Egyptians to reject Obama when he makes his speech, saying his decision to come to Cairo showed that the US had not given up its alliances with dictatorial and corrupt Mideast governments.
"It is a clear message that America does not stand with reform and change and other lying American propaganda, but it stands with the continuation of the existing tyrannical, rotten regimes," said Zawahri.
The authenticity of the audiotape could not be confirmed, but it was posted on militant Web sites that have been used by al-Qaida in the past and carried the logo of As-Sahab, the terrorist organization's media wing.