Al-Qaida's new leader has accused the United States of hijacking Egypt's popular uprising to preserve its interests in the Middle East.

Ayman al-Zawahri says the United States ¬"has led a peaceful transition of power, which protects its interests and turns the popular revolution into a military coup."

A military council has ruled Egypt since the mass uprising toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in February.

Al-Zawahri urged the Egyptian people to establish Islamic rule and foil Washington's efforts.

The audio message was posted late Monday on an extremist website. Its authenticity could not be immediately verified.

The Egyptian-born al-Zawahri was named the new al-Qaida chief following the U.S.-commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May.