Cairo: Al Qaeda's top leadership lashed out at US President Barack Obama Wednesday ahead of his visit to Cairo where he was to give a major speech on US-Arab relations designed to reshape America's image in the region.
Obama met Saudi King Abdullah in Riyadh Wednesday and will fly to Cairo Thursday for the highly anticipated address. Just before Obama's arrival, Al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, a native of Egypt, called Obama a 'criminal' who was 'not welcome' in Egypt.
Hours later, a purported audiotape of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden surfaced on al-Jazeera, accusing Obama of waging a war against Muslims in the tribal regions of Pakistan that will only produce more anger toward Washington.
'Obama and his administration put the seeds of hatred and revenge against America,' a translation of the voice message said. 'The number of these seeds is the same as the number of those victims and refugees in the Swat and tribal regions' of Pakistan.
Obama has strongly backed the Pakistani government's assault on Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in the remote area of Pakistan that has been used to carry out attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan and destabilise the government in Islamabad.
'This way Obama proved that he is walking the same road as his predecessors to build emnity against Muslims and increase the number of fighters against the US while establishing more lasting wars,' bin Laden said.
The White House is billing the Cairo speech as a keynote address to the Muslim world.
A prominent Egyptian lawyer, Muntasser al-Zayat - who has previously defended several Islamist extremists - said that Egyptian people would pay little heed to Al Qaeda's message, predicting that Egyptians were curious to hear what the US president, himself partly brought up in a Muslim nation - would have to say.
'I think al-Qaeda only released this tape to remind people they are still there,' he told DPA in Cairo.
Obama will meet Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak in talks expected to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.