leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called Wednesday on Muslims to attack U.S., European,
Israeli and Russian targets in a speech on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11
Intelligence Group, which tracks online activity of jihadist groups, reported
that in a video released by the militant group, the 68-year-old al-Zawahiri
also criticizes "backtrackers" from jihad, referring to former
Jihadis who changed their views in prison and called the 9/11 attacks
unacceptable because innocent civilians were harmed.
you want Jihad to be focused solely on military targets, the American military
has presence all over the world, from the East to the West," he said.
"Your countries are littered with American bases, with all the infidels
therein and the corruption they spread."
coordinated al-Qaida hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people,
when airliners slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and another
crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
speech was recorded in a 33-minute, 28-second video produced by the group's
as-Sahab Media Foundation.
an indicator of when the speech may have been recorded, al-Zawahiri references
President Donald Trump's recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory,
which was announced on March 25. He calls on Palestinians to seek
"martyrdom" by attacking Israelis with a suicide vest in response.
an Egyptian, became leader of al-Qaida following the 2011 killing of Osama bin
Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALs. He is believed to be hiding
somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions. A July report by the U.N.
cited reports that he is "in poor health" but provided no details.
recent years, al-Qaida has been engaged in fending off competition in jihadi
circles from its rival, the Islamic State group. IS exploded into prominence by
seizing large swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014, declaring a
"caliphate" and extending affiliates in multiple countries across the
physical "caliphate" was crushed in Iraq and Syria, though its
militants are still active and carrying out attacks.
U.N. report said the "immediate global threat posed by al-Qaida remains
unclear" but warned that some would-be IS recruits could turn to older
militants, meanwhile, have taken a lower profile, using regional conflicts in
Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen to entrench themselves. The Yemen branch has been
the most active, exploiting the chaos of the civil war to carry out bombings,
shootings and assassinations in an effort to expand its footprint.
bin Laden's son Hamza bin Laden had been viewed as an eventual heir to the
leadership of al-Qaida but was killed in a military operation, U.S. officials
have said. Al-Zawahiri lauded Hamza in a 2015 video that appeared on jihadi
websites, calling him a "lion from the den of al-Qaida."
Headline: Al-Qaida Chief in 9/11 Speech
Calls for Attacks on West
The New York Times