CAIRO — Marking the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the leader of al-Qaeda on Tuesday called on Muslims to wage war against the United States throughout the world.
In a 30-minute speech released Tuesday, Ayman al-Zawahiri went to great lengths to portray the United States as a religious enemy of Muslims, using Washington’s transfer of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as evidence of that enmity.
The Washington-based SITE group, which monitors media material by militants across the world, released an English transcript of the speech.
“America [is] the number one enemy of Muslims … despite of its professed secularism,” al-Zawahiri said in the video. He listed 14 directives to fight the United States, including an appeal for Muslim unity and jihadists close ranks.
Al-Zawahiri succeeded Osama bin Laden, a founder of al-Qaida who masterminded the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed more than 3,000 Americans. He was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011.
On Tuesday US, President Donald Trump paid tribute to the “heroes” who fought back against hijackers on September 11, 2001, vowing America would never flinch in the face of evil and that he would do whatever it takes to keep the country safe.
Under a grey sky in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, Trump praised the courage of the 40 men and women aboard Flight 93 who rushed the four hijackers who had diverted the plane and were targeting Washington.
“This memorial is now a message to the world. America will never, ever submit to tyranny,” Trump said, noting that nearly 5.5 million Americans have joined the US military since 9/11.
“As commander-in-chief, I will always do everything in my power to prevent terrorists from striking American soil,” the president added, while also paying tribute to the nearly 7,000 US service members who have been killed “facing down the menace of radical Islamic terrorism.”
It’s not the first time al-Zawahiri has linked the US embassy move to Jerusalem to the call for war against the US.
In a speech in May al-Zawahiri said America’s decision to shift its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem was evidence that negotiations and “appeasement” have failed Palestinians as he urged Muslims carry out jihad against the United States.
In a five-minute video entitled “Tel Aviv is Also a Land of Muslims,” the Egyptian doctor referred to the Palestinian Authority as the “sellers of Palestine” while urging followers to take up arms.
Trump “was clear and explicit, and he revealed the true face of the modern Crusade, where standing down and appeasement does not work with them, but only resistance through the call and jihad,” Zawahiri said, according to a transcript provided by the SITE monitoring agency.
He argued that Islamic countries had failed to act in Muslims’ interests by entering into the United Nations, which recognizes Israel, and submitting to Security Council and General Assembly resolutions instead of sharia (Islamic law).
Trump announced on December 6, 2017, that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move the embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.
The development delighted the Israeli government, but angered Palestinians who want the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future Palestinian state.
Most European countries have slammed Trump’s move as not in line with international consensus, preferring to wait on recognizing the city until the status of Jerusalem is finalized in talks with the Palestinians.