Cairo — Al Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri slammed Pope Benedict XVI as an “imposter” over his recent remarks about Islam in a videotape broadcast Saturday on al-Jazeera network.
“This imposter crossed the line when he said that Islam is incompatible with reason,” the Egyptian-born militant said in the 18-minute-long video message.
On Sep 12, Pope Benedict XVI quoted a Byzantine Christian emperor as describing some of the Prophet Mohammed’s teachings as “evil and inhuman”.
The text linked Islam with violence and said that the prophet commanded that the faith be “spread by the sword”.
In his message, al-Zawahiri linked the pope’s remarks to cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published a year ago, which sparked mass protests across the Muslim world.
Al-Zawahiri also compared Benedict to Pope Urban II, who was responsible for starting the first of the medieval crusades against Muslims, waged in the name of Christianity.
In the video, entitled Bush, the Pope, Darfur and the Crusades, al-Zawahiri also claimed that US President George Bush has blood on his hands from the “punishment and torture” of “the youth and soldiers of Islam” – including imprisoned terrorist plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
Mohammed, who the US believes was the key planner of the Sep 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, was moved recently from a secret prison outside the US to the military detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, along with 13 other top Al Qaeda suspects.