As part of the fallout from an online video that mocks Islam's holy prophet, al Qaeda's affiliate in North Africa on Tuesday urged Muslims in the region to kill U.S. government representatives and called the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens a "gift."
"We encourage all Muslims to continue to demonstrate and escalate their protests ... and to kill their (American) ambassadors and representatives or to expel them to cleanse our land from their wickedness," said the statement from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The group called last week's killing of Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, "the best gift you (can) give to his arrogant and unjust administration."
The video, "The Innocence of Muslims," is a low-budget, amateurish 14-minute movie trailer produced privately in the United States and posted on YouTube. The clip mocks the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer.
Islam forbids any depictions of Mohammed, and blasphemy is taboo among many in the Muslim world.
The video was relatively obscure until September 11 when rioters seizing on it breached the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Protesters also attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing Stevens and three other Americans.
Although Washington has made it clear it did not sanction the film, a wave of protests since then has rippled from Morocco to Malaysia, spurring U.S. officials to increase security at diplomatic missions and demand other governments to take action.