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Al Qaeda's al-Zawahiri calls on Saudis to rise up

By the CNN Wire Staff
May 18, 2012 -- Updated 0956 GMT (1756 HKT)
A Site Intelligence Group image of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri from video released August 15, 2011.
A Site Intelligence Group image of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri from video released August 15, 2011.
  • Ayman al-Zawahiri appears on a video posted on jihadist forums, an intelligence group says
  • The al Qaeda leader urges Saudis to rise up against the country's rulers
  • al-Zawahiri says the rulers are criminals for opening the country to U.S. troops
  • The video statement was posted online, the SITE Intelligence Group says

(CNN) -- Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urged people in Saudi Arabia to follow the example set by popular revolutions in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia and rise up.

"Why don't you rise up, for you are the sons of the strong and proud tribes that look down upon death in order to lift up humiliation and oppression? Are you afraid of the forces of the Saudi regime and its security and army?" al-Zawahiri said in a video posted Thursday on jihadist forums, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

It's the latest video message from al-Zawahiri, who took over as leader of the terror network after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces. In recent days, al-Zawahiri has made a similar call on the people of Yemen, saying the government was a puppet of the United States.

In the 6-minute, 19-second video, al-Zawahiri called on the people of Saudi Arabia to overthrow their rulers, saying they committed criminal and un-Islamic activities, said SITE, an organization that tracks the online activity of terror groups.

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Al-Zawahiri questioned how people could watch the Arab Spring revolutions and do nothing.

In the video, he said Saudi Arabia's rulers should be ousted for, among other things, opening the country to American forces and jailing militants.

"The Family of Saud might be able to kill tens, hundreds, or thousands from amongst you, but if hundreds of thousands come out, then they will be shocked and will end up, Allah permitting, in the state that their brethren ended up in amongst the ousted tyrants," he said, according to SITE's translation.

Al-Zawahiri was al Qaeda's No. 2 leader under bin Laden. He took over leadership in June 2011 following bin Laden's death, according to statements posted on jihadist websites.

One of the FBI's most wanted terrorists, al-Zawahiri has played a defining role in al Qaeda. He was indicted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, that killed 224 civilians and wounded more than 5,000 others, according to the National Counterterrorism Center, part of the U.S. federal government.

The FBI is offering a $25 million reward for information leading to his capture, the same amount as the reward for bin Laden.

Al-Zawahiri's wife and three children were killed in December 2001 in a U.S. attack on the family's residence in Afghanistan.

Al-Zawahiri is believed to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan's tribal region that borders Afghanistan.

CNN's Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.

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