Al-Qaeda Head Blames U.S. for Egypt Coup

Ayman al-Zawahiri accuses the United States of "plotting" with Egypt's military, secularists and Christians to overthrow Morsi.

Elad Benari ,

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri
SITE Intelligence Group/AFP/File

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has accused the United States of "plotting" with Egypt's military, secularists and Christians to overthrow Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, AFP reported on Saturday.

Zawahiri made the comments in an audio recording posted on militant Islamist forums.

In his first public comment on the July 3 coup in Egypt, the Al-Qaeda boss, himself an Egyptian, said, "Crusaders and secularists and the Americanized army have converged... with Gulf money and American plotting to topple Mohammed Morsi's government."

In the 15-minute recording, Zawahiri also accused Egypt's Coptic Christian minority of supporting the Islamist president's ouster to attain "a Coptic state stripped from Egypt's south."

Egypt's Christians, who make up six to 10 percent of the country's population of 82 million, have regularly complained of discrimination and marginalization. There have been many attacks, some of them lethal, against Copts in Egypt.

Zawahiri also attacked Egypt’s Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Laureate and former UN nuclear watchdog chief who was an opposition leader during Morsi's single year in office.

ElBaradei is the "envoy of American providence," Zawahiri said, labeling the former International Atomic Energy Agency chief as "the destroyer of Iraq," reported AFP.

Zawahiri, who belonged to the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group, criticized Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement for going soft on applying strict Islamic law.

Morsi's "Muslim Brotherhood government strove to please America and the secularists as much as it could, but they were not satisfied with it," said Zawahiri, who is believed to be hiding somewhere in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

"They did not trust it (Morsi's government) because they did not forget the Brotherhood's slogan: 'Jihad is our war, and death in the path of God is our highest aspiration'," he said, according to AFP.

"The Brotherhood abandoned that slogan, substituting it with the slogan 'Islam is the solution,' but the Crusaders and secularists did not forget," he said.

"What happened is the biggest proof of the failure of democratic means to achieve an Islamic government," he said of the coup.

"I call for them to be united... to make Islamic law rule."

So far, the White House has been cautious about calling the Egyptian military’s ouster of Morsi a “coup,” noting that it will need to “review what has taken place.”

Last week, the Obama administration told lawmakers that it does not plan on defining the overthrow of Egypt’s government as a coup, meaning the United States could continue providing $1.5 billion in annual military and economic aid to Egypt.