Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri on Thursday released an audio recording hailing the “blessed” September 11 terror attacks as “the greatest blow” America had ever suffered. He also asserted an Islamic duty to “liberate” every inch of Muslim lands, and called upon Muslims to “purify” their countries of corrupt leaders during what he termed a period of “American weakness.”
Muslims should “topple the western proxies” left in their countries “and especially the Saud clan and the gulf sheiks in the Arabian peninsula,” he declared.
Al-Zawahiri also urged Muslims to capture citizens of countries that fight Muslims in order to hold them as hostages and force the release of Muslim prisoners.
In comments translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), al-Zawahiri commemorated the “blessed raids” in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. He also noted “defeats” suffered by the United States in recent years in Afghanistan, Iraq and through the demise of “four of its collaborators in the Arab world” – references to the fall of leaders during the Arab Spring.
Al-Zawahiri said the 9/11 attacks were launched due to the “Zionist-crusader occupation of Muslim lands, and especially of Palestine.” The attacks were carried out “to confront the modern crusader campaign, which aims to make us disintegrate, so it could more easily devour us, one piece after another.”
“One cannot rely on the governments in the liberation of Palestine and the defense of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, because these governments are incapable of doing so, and in so many cases, they assist Israel in its aggression,” he said.
He also said the Islamic nation is capable of defeating the “Zionist-Crusader enterprise…in the heart of the Islamic world and especially in occupied Palestine, like it defeated this enterprise…in Iraq and Afghanistan, and like it managed to deliver the greatest blow in the history of America, on its own land, changing American history and destroying its economy.”
He said there was a need to establish an Islamic state that will follow a “godly path” and that will renounce secularism and democracy, which believes in brotherhood among Muslims and in the unity of Muslim lands, doing away with borders that were created by colonial powers. This state will consider its duty the “liberation” of “every inch of Muslim land, from the Caucuses to Zanzibar, from Afghanistan and Kashmir to East Timor and the Philippines, and from east Turkestan to Andalusia.” That state will believe that the “liberation of Palestine” is a duty incumbent upon all Muslims, not just Palestinians, he said.
The end of the video featured 71-year-old American Jewish prisoner Warren Weinstein. Weinstein recently asked his family to reach out to Jewish communities and make contacts to put pressure on the US government and President Obama to accept mujahedeen demands so he can be freed. He added that an appeal should be made to the “republican candidate.”
Last May, Weinstein, who was captured in Lahore and has been held captive for over year, made a similar video in which he appealed to Obama for help.
Al-Qaeda is demanding the release of prisoners held by the US and an end to air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Gaza.
In a May 14, 2001, recording that was aired Thursday with al-Zawahiri’s comments, 9/11 hijacker Khalid Muhammad Abdallah Al-Mihdahr said, “This is the message I leave behind to my nation, the nation of Islam, and to my brothers, the mujahedeen, in (Palestine), the land of Israa, in the (Arabian Peninsula) where the revelation was sent down to our prophet…We hereby declare a holy Jihad, by reviving the doctrine of the heroic mujahedeen… in order to inflict great losses upon the enemies of Allah.” He said that he would give a thousand lives in order to inflict losses on the enemies of Allah.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.