- Kuwait Times Extra
CAIRO: Al-Qaeda’s branch in North Africa yesterday called for attacks on US diplomats and an escalation of protests against an anti-Islam video that was produced in the United States and triggered a wave of demonstrations in Muslim countries. While demonstrations have tapered off in nations including Egypt and Tunisia, a protest against the film turned violent in Indian-controlled Kashmir and small rallies were held in Indonesia.
In Kabul, the Afghan capital, a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a mini-bus carrying South African aviation workers to the airport, killing at least 12 people in an attack that a militant group said was revenge for the film “Innocence of Muslims,” which was made by an Egyptian-born American citizen. US officials describe the video as offensive, but the American government’s protection of free speech rights has clashed with the anger of Muslims abroad. In a statement, Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb praised the killing of Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on Sept 11.
The group threatened attacks in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania, and condemned the United States for “lying to Muslims for more than 10 years, saying its war was against terrorism and not Islam.” The group urged Muslims to pull down and burn American flags at embassies, and kill or expel American diplomats to “purge our land of their filth in revenge for the honor of the Prophet.” Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula recently issued a similar call for attacks on US diplomatic facilities. It is Al-Qaeda’s most active branch in the Middle East.
An Islamist militant group, Hizb-i-Islami, claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul. The group is headed by 65-year-old former warlord Gubuddin Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister and onetime US ally who is now listed as a terrorist by Washington. The militia has thousands of fighters and followers across the country’s north and east. Meanwhile, Hezbollah warned of “very dangerous” global repercussions if an anti-Islam film is released in its entirety, as a fatwa was issued against the film’s producer who has gone into hiding with his family.
Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah warning came as the death toll from a week of violence sparked by the movie rose to 19. An eruption of Muslim anger over a trailer of the American-made film that appeared on the Internet has spread across the world, taking hold Monday in Afghanistan, Indonesia, the West Bank, the Philippines and Yemen.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets of southern Beirut to denounce the film at Nasrallah’s request, and the head of the powerful Shiite Muslim group surprised supporters by making a rare public appearance. Nasrallah, whose Lebanese movement is blacklisted in the United States as a terrorist group, has called for a week of protests across the country over the film, describing it as the “worst attack ever on Islam”. “America must understand… the US must understand that releasing the entire film will have dangerous, very dangerous, repercussions around the world,” he told the rally.
In Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, a strike shut down businesses and public transportation as marchers burned US flags and an effigy of President Barack Obama. When the protesters tried to march into the main business district, police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse them, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. — Agencies
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