On September 11, 2019, Al-Sahab, the media arm of Al-Qaeda, released a video featuring the group’s leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri urging the mujahideen in Palestine and across the Muslim ummah to target Israeli, U.S., European, and Russian interests worldwide. The report was carried by MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor.
In the video, which was posted on Al-Sahab’s official Telegram channel, Al-Zawahiri addressed Muslim scholars, who had condemned Al-Qaeda for killing unarmed civilians and asked them to attack U.S. and European military bases around the world if they want jihad to be only against military targets. Al-Zawahiri also accused Iran of partnering with the U.S. in its wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, and praised the Taliban saying they have drained the U.S. “which sought to negotiate with Taliban to get out of Afghanistan.”
The video, which is titled “And they shall continue fighting you” (Quran 2:217), started by condemning the U.S. and accusing it of continuing to be hostile against Islam and Muslims, citing President Trump’s decisions to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights as examples.
Al-Zawahiri then claimed that the majority of Zionists throughout history have been non-Jews, saying Napoleon, Balfour, Mark Sykes, President Trump, and thousands of others were “non-Jew Zionists.” According to Al-Zawahiri, “these Zionists plot against Muslims everywhere and immigrate to Israel from all over the world; therefore, it is necessary to take the battle to them everywhere.”
Encouraging martyrdom-seeking mujahideen to carry out attacks around the world, Al-Zawahiri noted that those who want to wage jihad against Israel can do so anywhere. He said: “After ensuring that his target is permissible in the light of the shari’a, that no harm should occur to Muslims as a result of his actions, and that the benefits of his actions outweigh the costs, all he needs to do is to put his trust in Allah and head for his target after leaving a message that the aim of his jihad operation is avenging the crimes in Palestine and all such Muslim lands.”
Addressing the mujahideen in Palestine and across the Muslim ummah Al-Zawahiri said: “The interests of Israel and its American, British, French, Russian, and European allies are spread all over the world. So just as they conspire and join forces against us everywhere, we must chase them down everywhere at a time and place of our choosing.” Al-Zawahiri also called on the mujahdeen to be inventive and creative in planning their attacks.
Al-Zawahiri then claimed that the U.S., after recognizing the danger of terrorism after the 9/11 attacks, as well as attacks conducted in European capitals, launched its “propaganda” war against terrorism. After condemning Muslim scholars who criticized Al-Qaeda and accused it of targeting civilians, Al-Zawahiri denied that civilians were killed in 9/11 and asked: “Were those killed in the Pentagon innocent? Or was it the headquarters of the biggest military power in the world that was hit and host to the biggest criminals involved in crimes against Muslims? What about the airplane that was headed for the Congress or the White House? Was it also meant to target innocents?”
“If you want jihad to be focused solely on military targets,” he said, “the American military has presence all over the world from the East to the West. Your countries are littered with American bases… attack them there and show us your defect-free jihad… British, French, and NATO forces are present worldwide especially in Muslim countries, so attack them as reprisal for their crimes in Palestine and their support for Israel. The French forces are occupying Mali and attacking Muslims in the Sahel and the Sahara, why do you ignore them and abandon your Muslim brothers?” He went on and encouraged Muslims to target U.S. forces and their allies in Somalia, Russian forces for their involvement in Syria and other conflicts in Central Asia, Indian forces for “occupying” Kashmir, Chinese forces for “occupying” East Turkestan, and Israeli embassies and interests around the world.
Next, Al-Zawahiri criticized Iran, which he accused of being a U.S. partner in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria saying: “Iran has an understanding with the Americans in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and it only differs with them on the returns of the agreement. At times, it signs accords with them, when it is unsuitable for them, it continues its policy of blackmail.”
Al-Zawahiri concluded by addressing Muslims everywhere saying: “America only understands the language of force. Those who inflict damage on America, America tries to negotiate and arrive at an understanding with them. Those who retreat in the face of its power, America doesn’t spare them until it has completely overcome them. The Islamic Emirate dealt severe blows to America. This is why the Americans showed keenness to negotiate with them a withdrawal from Afghanistan.”