Al-Qaeda leader slams Turkish cooperation with Israel
Al-Qaeda's second-in-command has urged Turks to force their government to stop cooperating with Israel in a message posted Sunday on Islamist websites.
The posting, titled "A Message to the Turkish Muslim people," was produced by al-Qaeda's media arm, al-Sahab. It alleges that the speaker is Ayman al-Zawahiri, wanted by the US government for his involvement in global terrorism, including the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington.
The Arabic audio statement also condemns the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May, which left nine Turkish activists dead, dpa reported.
"Change will not come by sending aid convoys, or by staging demonstrations here and there," al-Zawahiri adds in the 20-minute- long audio message.
"Change will come if the Turks demand that their government stop cooperating with Israel and recognising it," the voice in the audio statement said.
The al-Qaeda leader urged an end to the sending of aid ships that he said become like "sheep in the sea of the wolves."
The United States, Israel and "treacherous Muslim governments" shared responsibility for the blockade of the Gaza Strip, he said.
Al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian-born doctor, also condemned Turkey's military and trade relations with Israel, as well as its involvement in Afghanistan through its NATO membership.
"Your government and your army turned into tools in the hands of the global crusade in its campaign against Islam and Muslims," he said, as he described the US as the "leader of the global crusade."
He also said that the Turkish government has helped Washington in its "war against Islam" by arresting several "mujahideen," or holy warriors, and sending them to US prisons.
Al-Zawahiri in recent messages has stepped up his verbal assaults on Turkey, though this was the first which directly addressed the May flotilla incident.