Alleging that thousands of people are being killed in the streets of Bangladesh for protesting against a "collusion of the anti-Islam secular government", al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has invited people to "confront this crusader onslaught against Islam"
The Daily Star could not independently verify the authenticity of the message.
The call came in an audio message allegedly produced by al-Qaeda's media production house 'As-Sahab Media' and found on a website, jihadology.net.
"A massacre of Muslims is being carried out these days, and the Muslim world is totally oblivious to it. The western media is colluding with the killers to belittle its significance and hide the facts," Zawahiri said in the message.
The message titled 'Bangladesh: A Massacre Behind a Wall of Silence', contains photographs from Hefajat-e Islam programmes and law enforcers action on them.
It also carries statements of Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi, a Pakistani cleric who was killed during security forces' operation on July 5, 2011, and Palestinian Sunni Islamic scholar Imam Abdullah Azzam, who was killed by a car bomb blast on November 24, 1989.
"This is the bloodbath taking place in Bangladesh, without the Muslims paying the least attention to it," said the al-Qaeda chief who took over the helm of the terrorist militant outfit after the killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011 at a house in Abottabad in Pakistan.
"Bangladesh is the victim of the conspiracy in which the agents of India, the corrupt leadership of the Pakistan army, and treacherous power hungry politicians of Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are always prepared to sacrifice everything for the sake of fulfilling their ambitions and desires, were all equal participants," Zawahiri said.
However, the real victim was the Muslim Ummah in the subcontinent generally, and in Pakistan and Bangladesh specifically, the Egyptian physician insisted.
"The crimes that are being committed in Bangladesh today against the core beliefs of Islam, the Prophet of Islam (pbuh), and the Muslim Ummah are only the fruits of the rotten seeds sown by these criminals.
"Their purpose was not independence from Pakistan, stopping the aggression against the people of Bangladesh, or getting rid of military rule in Pakistan. None of these was the real objectives, even if these criminals took cover behind these slogans, parroted these lines, and propagated these out of their malevolence or stupidity, or due to both. None of this was the real purpose."
The real purpose was weakening the Muslim Ummah in the subcontinent, said the al-Qaeda chief.
"It was to rip the Muslim Ummah apart into pieces, and lead it to death by getting it entangled in mutual strife, regional conflicts and wars. Above all, their purpose was to attack the real capital of this Ummah, and the secret of its strength: the Islamic faith."
What is taking place today in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Afghanistan is "only a prelude to the execution of this evil plan, and the aforementioned criminals are the tools of the enemies of Islam in this vile conspiracy", he said.
"Those who massacred the Muslims in Bangladesh only yesterday are the same people who are massacring the Muslims in Pakistan today. Similarly, those who allied with India against Pakistan by claiming that they sought to defend the honour and sanctities of Bengalis are the same people who are attacking the sanctities, beliefs, honour, lives and properties of Bengalis today."
Continues Zawahiri: "They claimed that they created Pakistan more than 60 years ago to defend Islam and Muslims in the subcontinent. Today we have a Pakistan that has no Shariah, no independence and no honour.
"Its government, army, intelligence, police and judiciary act as mercenaries hired to defend the interests of the crusader onslaught in South Asia."
Similarly, they claimed that they created Bangladesh more than 40 years ago to protect the independence, glory, honour and freedom of its people, he said.
"But today we see Bangladesh turning into a huge prison in which the sanctities, honour, dignity and sacred places of Muslims are violated. Their lives are put at stake, and they are tortured in defence of the crusader onslaught, which is fighting Islam politically, militarily and ideologically."
Bangladesh, which they claimed to have won from Pakistan so that it may get its freedom, is being turned into a subjugated surrogate of India, the Islamist theologian alleged.
"These anti-Islamic policies that assail Islamic beliefs, symbols and the noble Prophet of Islam (pbuh), are only a manifestation of complete subjugation to India."
The events in Bangladesh enjoy the blessings of both India and America, since their interests in fighting Islam overlap, and this is why their bilateral relations are becoming stronger day by day.
This is the bitter truth that we must be aware of, so that we can take the first step on the road to freeing ourselves from this misfortune, humiliation and subservience to foreign powers.
Zawahiri alleged that thousands of people are being killed in the streets of Bangladesh "without any guilt, except that they have come out to protest against the collusion of the anti-Islam secular government with a bunch of transgressing secularists who are heaping insults and vulgar abuses on Islam and the Prophet of Islam (pbuh)".
"Hundreds of callers to the religion and scholars are also facing hardships, manhunts, imprisonment, trials, death sentences and life imprisonments without any guilt except that they have taken a stand against the agents of this crusader onslaught, who are being used as tools by the leading criminals of the western world to distort the image of Islam and poke fun at this religion, its prophet and beliefs."
He invited Muslims in Bangladesh "to confront this crusader onslaught against Islam, which is being orchestrated by the leading criminals in the subcontinent and the West against Islam, the Prophet of Islam and the Islamic creed, so that they may turn you into slaves of a despotic and disbelieving system".
"The system which they want to impose on you seeks to enslave mankind, steal the resources and divide it into segments with its hellish and brutal apparatus."