March 25, 2004
Zawahiri Tape Calls For Coup, Targets Pakistan's Weak Points
Ayman al Zawarhiri (alt. spelling: Zawahri), al Qaeda's top leader after Osama bin Laden, has called for a military coup and popular revolt in Pakistan.
The new audiotape message, judged authentic by the CIA, calls for a popular revolution in the South Asian nation, as well as specifically addressing the military. The tape refers to Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf as a "Muslim assassin."
The timing of the message suggests retaliation for Musharraf's recent aggressive attack on tribes populating the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Pakistani officials claimed last week that they had Zawahiri cornered in heavy combat but suggested earlier this week that the "high-value" target they sought had escaped through a secret tunnel.
Pakistan has been deeply divided over the high-casualty assault, which has faced both political and grass roots opposition.
Musharraf has been the subject of two assassination attempts within the last year. Security was tightened in the capitol city after the audiotape was broadcast on Aljazeerah pan-Arabic television. There are three points of immediate and major concern in the message.
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