The leader of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahri, has called for a holy war against the United States and Israel over anti-Islam footage produced in California that sparked protests throughout the Muslim world, reported the Associated Press.
AP said Zawahri issued the audio message by way of al-Qaida's As-Sahab media outreach website and reported that had been posted on militant sites early today.
The call comes days after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described the threat of cyber attacks against the US as a "pre-9/11 moment."
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In the message, Zawahri reportedly described attackers on US embassies in Libya and Egypt as "honest and zealous" protesters, said AP.
The September 11 attack on Libya's US embassy by demonstrators outraged over the film left three people dead, including the US ambassador, and triggered a wave of solidarity rallies outside US consulates throughout the Islamic world.
Zawahri claimed freedom of expression was merely a pretext for the film's US-based production, adding, that "this freedom did not prevent them from torturing Muslim prisoners," said AP, including those held at US military prisons in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan, reported Reuters.
The footage in question, a 14-minute trailer for the supposedly forthcoming feature film "Innocence of Muslims," was dubbed into Arabic and uploaded online in early September.
The film's believed director, Egyptian-born American Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is now in police custody on unrelated charges (which he denied in court on Wednesday).
Zawahiri also hit out at US President Barack Obama's Democratic Party for supporting Jerusalem as Israel's capital, said Reuters.
The Egypt-born cleric took over Al-Qaida after former leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces last year.