BAGHDAD (AP) Al-Qaidas leader says a prisoner hunger strike in Guantánamo Bay has revealed the odious face of America and claims that the terror network will spare no effort to free prisoners held at the US military-run detention center in Cuba.
Ayman Al-Zawahri spoke in a 22-minute audio message posted on the Internet on Wednesday, the same day a U.S. Army spokesman said 66 captives were on hunger strike, 42 of them on a list for force-feedings by tubes if they wouldnt drink a can of nutritional supplement.
The strike by our brothers in Guantánamo reveals the real odious and ugly face of America, Zawahri said. We pledge God that we will spare no efforts to set them free, he said
Most of the 166 prisoners at Guantánamo began a hunger strike earlier this year to protest conditions and their indefinite confinement.
"We pledge God that we will spare no efforts to set them free along with all our prisoners, on top of them Omar Abdel Rahman, Aafia Siddiqui, Khalid Sheik Mohammed and every oppressed Muslim everywhere," he added.
Militants have in the past tried to free Abdel Rahman, a blind Egyptian sheik convicted of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks, and Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist convicted of shooting at two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, by offering to free hostages in exchange.
Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is at Guantánamo, awaiting a death-penalty trial by military tribunal. The other two are at civilian prisons in the United States.
The message's authenticity could not be independently confirmed but the message was posted on a militant website commonly used by al-Qaida.
Al-Zawahri's last message, urging Sunni Muslims to devote their lives, money and expertise to battling Syria's President Bashar Assad, was delivered in June. Assad's regime is dominated by members of a Shiite offshoot sect.