Its chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in the clip interprets the Bengali struggle for freedom from Pakistan in a way that is chillingly similar to the one offered by the Jamaat-e-Islami.
Again, the global terror network is on the same wavelength with the Islamist party, which is facing calls for a ban for 1971 atrocities, that the ongoing war crimes trial only aims to harass Islamic scholars
The militant leader in the clip can be heard charging the government with killing ‘thousands of people’ during last year’s crackdown on the violent rally by Hifazat-e Islam – in an echo of claims made by the Chittagong-based outfit along with the BNP and the Jamaat.
The recording with the call to arms has hurried the Hifazat, perceived to be bankrolled by the Jamaat, into denying any ties with the al-Qaeda.
Speaking in Arabic on the tape released on a website used for militant audios and videos, the Egyptian-born surgeon derides the Bangladesh government for being anti-Islam and secular. The terror outfit’s outrage at the trial of the Jamaat-e-Islami leaders is also palpable.
The entire clip lasting 28 minutes and 58 seconds titled "Bangladesh: Massacre Behind a Wall of Silence" features message by al-Zawahiri, who appears only in a still image, along with other images, including the Hifazat rally.
A copy of the supposed al-Zawahiri recording is available with bdnews24.com.
There, he claims that "a massacre of Muslims is being carried out these days” and “the western media is colluding with the killers to belittle its significance and hide the facts”.
“This is the bloodbath taking place in Bangladesh, without the Muslims paying least attention to it,” the Egyptian-born eye surgeon, thought to be in hiding in Pakistan or Afghanistan, observes.
The first two minutes of the clip screen footage of last year's May 5 police action at a Hifazat-e Islam rally in Dhaka. Then speaks Zawahiri, hitting out at the Western media's alleged silence on 'how Muslims are massacred in Bangladesh'.
Letting rip at the creation of Bangladesh, he says it has not worked as a nation born more than 40 years ago ‘to protect the independence, glory, honour and freedom of its people’.
The al-Qaeda chief’s tirade appears to have been provoked by the war crimes trials.
Jamaat leader Abdul Quader Molla has already been hanged, drawing condolences in Pakistan’s Parliament which said he was hanged to death because “he was loyal to Pakistan and supported Pakistan army during the 1971 war”.
Several other Jamaat leaders face death and life sentences. In addition, many Jamaat leaders and activists are in jail on charges of involvement with violence last year.
Zawahiri in the clip says: “Bangladesh is the victim of a conspiracy in which the agents of India, the corrupt leadership of Pakistan Army, and treacherous power-hungry politicians of Bangladesh and Pakistan…
“However the real victim was the Muslim Ummah in the subcontinent generally, and in Bangladesh and Pakistan specifically.
“The crimes that are being committed in Bangladesh today against the core beliefs of Islam, the prophet of Islam (peace be upon him), and the Muslim Ummah are only the fruits of the rotten seeds sown by these criminals.
“Their purpose was not independence from Pakistan, stopping the aggression against the people of Bangladesh or getting rid of military rule in Pakistan.
Continues the 62-year old: “None of these was the real objective... The real purpose was weathering the Muslim Ummah in the subcontinent.
“It was to rip the Ummah apart into pieces, bleed it to death by getting it entangled in mutual strife, regional conflicts and wars.
“Above all, their purpose was to attack the real capital of this Ummah, and the secret of its strength, the Islamic faith,” the man is heard saying in the audio tape.
“Those who allied with India against Pakistan by claiming that they sought to defend the honour and sanctities of Bengalis are the same people who are attacking the sanctities, beliefs, honour, lives and properties of Bengalis today.
“Bangladesh, which they claimed to have won from Pakistan so that it may get its freedom, is being turned into a subjugated surrogate of India.”
The al-Qaeda boss then launches a passionate appeal.
“My Muslim brothers in Bangladesh, I invite you to confront this crusader onslaught against Islam, which is being orchestrated by the leading criminals in the subcontinent and the West against Islam, the prophet of Islam and the Islamic creed, so that they may turn you into slaves of a despotic and disbelieving system,” he says.
The Jamaat, Hifazat and other ultra-right groups in Bangladesh and elsewhere over the past months and years also called for 'uprising' against the Awami League government and attacked it for upholding secularism, equating it with atheism.
Zawahiri does not threaten specific attacks but the hatred of the pro-independence government among the Islamists shows how dangerously it is living.
Describing Bangladesh as a ‘huge prison’, the audio tape says the honour and dignity of Muslims is at stake in the country.
Zawahiri, who is believed to have clandestinely visited Bangladesh many times, called on Bangladeshis “to gather around the true scholars of Islam, support them and protect them.”
“I invite you to back them and support them and guard them. And I invite you to launch a massive public uprising in defence of Islam against the enemies of Islam,” the Al Qaeda chief says in the audio.
“I invite the leading Islamic scholars [Ulamaye keram] of Bangladesh to fulfil the role that Islam has given them.”
The al-Qaeda leader used the word ‘intifada’ in his message, which in Arabic literally means shaking-off, but is usually translated in English as uprising, resistance or rebellion.
“I invite you to lead the masses in a vast and inclusive proper uprising [intifada] whose tide does not recedes, nor its dynamism subsides, until the Shariah of Islam governs the land of Islam, instead of being governed over until it becomes the authority, instead of being subjected to ‘authority’, and until it leads the way, instead of being led.”