Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, has sung the praises of former Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud on a videotape produced by As Sahab and distributed on jihadi forums. Zawahiri used Baitullah’s death to praise the Taliban’s fight against NATO and the US in Afghanistan. But Zawahiri especially focused on Baitullah’s role in the attempt to smash the Pakistani state. The following translation is a portion of Zawahiri’s tape:
He [Baitullah] took part in destroying the great lie that was always propagated by the agent government in Pakistan, that it is an Islamic government with an Islamic system. He made it clear that it is an apostate government that has thrown itself under the feet of the new Crusaders and is hostile towards Muslims, whom it fights and kills in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“He also announced his renunciation of the democratic, secular system and the British judicial structure which Pakistan had inherited from the British occupation. He also shattered the great myth which the Pakistani government and its agent army had promoted with the cooperation of earthly scholars and the military intelligence jurists — the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] — that the Pakistani army is a Muslim army which defends the land of Islam in Pakistan and stands against the Indian threat against it. Its slogan is ‘Faith, piety and jihad in the cause of God.’ For this reason, the army and its members should not be killed, its centers, convoys, and facilities should not be attacked, and martyr operations against it are prohibited.
“He, may God have mercy on his soul, showed that the rulers of the Pakistani government and the commanders of its army are nothing but a bunch of corrupt traitors that sold its religion, honor, and the blood of Muslims in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the new Crusader in exchange for a handful of dollars and benefits. He, may God have mercy on his soul, also exerted a tremendous effort to destroy the idol of Pakistani nationalism, which is summarized by the slogan that was reiterated by Musharaf and his gang: ‘Pakistan comes first.’ By this, they meant that every Pakistani has to love his country, even if it is at the expense of another Muslim country. Accordingly, he would be supportive and loyal to its army, which kills Muslims and supports the Crusaders, because it is considered the symbol of national unity in Pakistan, its protector, and its guardian.
Zawahiri had some especially rough words for Pakistan’s military:
The Pakistanis and the entire world watched with their own eyes the tapes that showed the Pakistani army put down its weapons and hand them over to the mujahidin. They also saw the confessions of its officers during their capture by the mujahidin, and how the mujahidin treated them well and gave them presents before they set them free. It became clear to the Muslims in Pakistan and the entire world that the Pakistani Army, which is misrepresenting itself with its famous slogan ‘Faith, piety, and jihad in the cause of God,’ is not only a collaborating army, but also a deceitful army which claims to be the shield and sword of Pakistan but plunders the wealth of Pakistan and extorts it with this lie. In fact, it is an army of low-spirit opportunists who offer their services to the Crusaders and then flee from the battlefield and surrender when the battle gets too hard.
Since the summer of 2007, after the Pakistani government assaulted the radical Red Mosque in Islamabad, al Qaeda has called for the overthrow of the Pakistani state. Zawahiri’s latest message is consistent with prior messages issued about Pakistan by Osama bin Laden and Abu Yahya al Libi.