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U.S. ‘pretends to be sorry’ over Quran burning, says al-Qaeda chief Zawahiri

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Al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri rejected the U.S. apology over the burning of Quran copies at a base in Afghanistan, adding that the Americans “pretend to be sorry,” SITE Intelligence Group reported on Wednesday.

“The Crusaders once again repeated their crime by insulting the holy Quran, and once again mocked the messenger of Allah,” Zawahiri said in a SITE English-language translation of his nearly seven-minute message.

“After each of their crimes, they pretend to be sorry, and they claim they will investigate what happened, which is a silly farce that Obama and his secretary repeated this time also,” said the chief of the terror network.

In February, thousands of Afghan protesters attacked the biggest U.S. military base in their country, at Bagram near Kabul, reacting to reports that troops inside had burned copies of the Quran.

Around 40 people were killed in several days of violent protests.

American officials say the Qurans had been confiscated from prisoners as they used them to communicate between each other. The incident led U.S. President Barack Obama to apologize for what he described as an error.

In Wednesday’s video which the U.S.-based SITE said was posted on extremist forums, Zawahiri criticized Obama’s apology.

“The American Crusaders and their allies showed over and over again their hatred and envy of Islam, the book of Islam, the prophet (of) Islam,” Zawahiri said.

He urged Muslim across the world to “fight the enemies of Allah and the enemies of His Messenger.”

Zawahiri delivered a similar message in March, urging Afghans to rise up against “Crusader pigs” after U.S. Marines were shown in an Internet video urinating on the corpses of Taliban militants.

In February, a tape of Zawahiri was released in which he said U.S. decisions to cut its defense budget and engage with the Afghan Taliban were signals of a decline in Washington’s power.

A fresh scandal has rocked the alliance between the United States and the Afghan government every month this year in their joint efforts against Taliban insurgents.