Al-Qaida's branch in North Africa on Tuesday called for attacks on U.S. diplomats and an escalation of protests against an anti-Islam video that was produced in the United States and triggered a wave of demonstrations in the Middle East and beyond.
While demonstrations have tapered off in nations including Egypt and Tunisia, protests against the film turned violent in Pakistan and Indian-controlled Kashmir and hundreds of people rallied in Indonesia and Thailand.
U.S. officials describe the video as offensive, but the American government's protection of free speech rights has clashed with the anger of Muslims abroad who are furious over the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and pedophile.
In a statement, al-Qaida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb praised the killing of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11. The group threatened attacks in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania, and condemned the U.S. for "lying to Muslims for more than 10 years, saying its war was against terrorism and not Islam."
The group urged Muslims to pull down and burn American flags at embassies, and kill or expel American diplomats to "purge our land of their filth in revenge for the honor of the Prophet."
Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula recently issued a similar call for attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities. It is al-Qaida's most active branch in the Middle East.
The U.S. has put negotiations over renewed financial aid to Egypt on hold following the anti-U.S. protests, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. The demonstration started in Cairo and later spread across the Muslim world.
Google has blocked access to the video in Libya and Egypt following violence there, and in Indonesia and India because it says the video broke laws in those countries.
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