CAIRO - Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said a film made in the United States mocking the Prophet Mohammed showed Washington was waging a "crusader Zionist war" against Muslims and he called for more protests outside American embassies.

Like in other messages released by al-Qaida's Yemeni and North African branches last month, Zawahiri praised last month's assault on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four diplomats but stopped short of claiming responsibility.

In the recording, posted on Islamist websites on Friday, he called on "free and distinguished zealots for Islam" who attacked the consulate and protested outside other American embassies to "continue their opposition to American crusader Zionist aggression against Islam and Muslims".

The recording appeared on the Mujahedin al-Ansar website which carries statements from al-Qaida leaders.

Zawahiri said US authorities "permitted the film in the name of personal freedom and freedom of expression" but failed to practice those values in its treatment of Muslims imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.

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