CAIRO (AP) — The leader of al-Qaeda has urged Muslims to wage holy war against the United States and Israel over a film that insulted Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Ayman al-Zawahiri praised as “honest and zealous” demonstrators who breached the US Embassy in Cairo and attackers who stormed the US “embassy” in Benghazi in violence linked to the film. The American ambassador and three others died in the Sept. 11 attack on the US Consulate in the Libyan city.

The amateur film “Innocence of Muslims” was made by an Egyptian-born American citizen.

In an audio message released by al-Qaeda’s media arm As-Sahab and posted on militant websites early Saturday, al-Zawahiri claimed Washington allowed the film’s production under the pretext of freedom of expression, “but this freedom did not prevent them from torturing Muslim prisoners.”

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.