Al-Qaeda's number two Ayman Al-Zawahiri, in an audiotape released Monday, called on Muslims to strike Israeli and American interests in revenge for Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip within hours of militant blowing up fuel tankers in Pakistan.
"Muslims, today is your day. Strike the interests of the Jews, the Americans, and all of those who participated in the attack on the Muslims," Zawahiri said in an audio speech issued by al-Qaeda's As-Sahab information network and monitored by SITE Intelligence Group.
The address became the second public message coming from the al-Qaeda leadership in less than a week.
On March 20, Osama Bin Laden insisted in a similar appeal to his followers that the only way to liberate Palestine is not through negotiations or dialogue, but "iron and fire."
Zawahiri's message coincided with a visit to the West Bank by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who warned on Sunday that attacks on Israel by Palestinian militants were killing hopes for their "long overdue" state.
In the speech titled "Rush to Support Our People in Gaza", Zawahiri blasts what he sees as collusion between the United States, Israel, Egypt, and other Arab states against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and its people.
He insisted that Israeli warplanes were bombing people in Gaza "based on the American decision, the Egyptian siege, and Arab collusion."
"They will never be able to insult and make a mockery out of our Prophet, peace and prayers of Allah upon him," Zawahiri went on to conclude. "They cannot expect to support Israel, then live in peace and enjoyment while the Jews are killing our fugitive and surrounded people."
Meanwhile in a Pakistani border town close to where al-Zawahiri is believed to be hiding, Islamic militants blew up 36 tankers supplying fuel for U.S. and NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan, wounding up to 100 people, officials said.
The attack, one of the worst of its kind since June last year, happened late Sunday and destroyed the tankers which were parked in Landikotal, the main town of the troubled Khyber tribal district where Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked insurgents have carried out a series of attacks.
It was, when militants blew up at least 13 oil tankers supplying fuel to U.S. bases in eastern and southern Afghanistan.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.