A screen grab taken on July 6, 2006 from al-Jazeera shows Al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri.
Credit: screen shot

In an audio recording on Thursday, Al Qaeda's leader Ayman al-Zawahri announced his support for the beleaguered Syrian rebels.

He framed the Syrian revolution, and the fall of President Bashar al-Assad, as necessary steps towards the defeat of Israel.

"Supporting jihad in Syria to establish a Muslim state is a basic step towards Jerusalem," he said.

He then accused America of propping up the current regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

"America is giving the secular Baathist regime one chance after another for fear that a government is established in Syria that would threaten Israel," he said.

It's not the first time Al-Zawahri has tried to marshal support for the Syrian rebels. Back in Feb. he called in an 8-minute video titled, "Onwards, Lions of Syria," for Muslims across the Middle East to help topple Assad's "pernicious, cancerous regime."

Al-Zawahri added, "Wounded Syria still bleeds day after day while the butcher, son of the butcher Bashar bin Hafiz [Hafez al-Assad], is not deterred to stop. But the resistance of our people in Syria despite all the pain, sacrifice and bloodshed escalates and grows."

Zawahri became Al Qaeda's commander after Osama Bin Laden was killed last year.

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