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Zawahri blasts offences against Prophet Mohammad-Web

Written by: Staff
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DUBAI, Mar 4 (Reuters) Al Qaeda's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri said offences against Prophet Mohammad were part of a ''crusader'' campaign led by the United States, according to an audio tape posted on the Internet today.

''An example of the hatred of the crusaders led By America ... are the repeated offences against the personality of the Prophet Mohammad, may peace be upon him,'' said the speaker who sounded like Zawahri.

The authenticity of the tape could not be verified but it was posted on a main Web site used by Islamist groups.

He was apparently referring to cartoons first published last year in a Danish newspaper lampooning the Prophet Mohammad.

Today's tape came as US President George W Bush concluded a visit to Pakistan, where Zawahri and Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden are believed to be hiding.

Zawahri, in a tape aired by the Qatar-based Al Jazeera satellite channel in January, blasted Bush as a ''butcher'' and said a recent US air strike in Pakistan targeting him had killed only innocent people.

REUTERS DH RAI0330

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