Bin Laden against attacks on civilians, deputy says

Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:05pm GMT

* Indiscriminate attacks should be avoided, Zawahri says

* Zawahri says bin Laden asked him to point this out again

* Denies link to church attack in Egypt's Alexandria

DUBAI, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has asked his deputy to remind Islamic militants they should avoid attacks on civilian targets, the group's No. 2 said in a message posted on the Internet on Thursday.

"There are certain operations attributed, rightly or falsely, to the mujahideen, in which Muslims are attacked in their mosques, market places or gatherings ... I and my brothers in al Qaeda distance ourselves ... from such operations and condemn them," Ayman al-Zawahri said in an audio recording.

Taliban leader Mullah Omar, bin Laden and other militant figures have taken similar stands earlier, Zawahri said, but added that bin Laden wanted this pointed out again.

"Sheikh Osama bin Laden ... assigned me again to reiterate this matter. Therefore I urge the mujahideen to consider the rulings of sharia (Islamic law) and the interests of Muslims before undertaking any jihad operation," he said.

Militants should refrain from indiscriminate attacks on "Muslim or non-Muslims", Zawahri said, without referring to any particular attack.   Continued...

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