Politics

Zawahiri video reveals al Qaeda alive and effectively amid Taliban takeover

A proof-of-life video from Ayman al Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy who took over al Qaeda after the USA killed the terrorist chief in 2011, reveals the jihadist was alive at the least as of early 2021, exhibiting the group’s resilience because the Taliban take over Afghanistan and seemingly debunking rumors he died final yr.

The return of the Taliban to energy 20 years after their longtime allies carried out the 9/11 assaults might present the terrorist group with a safer launching pad to conduct additional terrorist acts.

Ties between the Taliban and al Qaeda run deep. 5 years in the past, Zawahiri swore allegiance  to the Taliban’s prime religious chief, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, referring to him because the “emir of the believers.” Bin Laden had lengthy pledged his allegiance to the Taliban’s one-eyed founder, Mullah Mohammed Omar, who probably died someday in 2013.

In a video launched by al Qaeda on the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, the Lengthy Warfare Journal reported that Zawahiri particularly referenced the al Qaeda affiliated Tanzim Hurras ad-Din (Guardians of Faith Group) assault towards a Russian navy base in Syria initially of January 2021, exhibiting that, at minimal, Zawahiri seemed to be alive initially of the yr.

The brand new video is known as “Jerusalem Will Not Be Judaized” and spouts a wide range of conspiracy theories. Al Qaeda’s media arm, As Sahab, said “Might Allah Defend Him” every time Zawahiri was talked about and, simply earlier than 9/11, al Qaeda launched an 852-page e-book allegedly written by Zawahiri, with an introduction attributed to the terrorist chief dated April, exhibiting al Qaeda needs the world to suppose he’s nonetheless alive.

The United Nations mentioned this summer time that Zawahiri “is believed to be positioned someplace within the border area of Afghanistan and Pakistan” and that “earlier experiences of his loss of life as a result of ailing well being haven’t been confirmed.”

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Within the prerecorded video, Zawahiri introduced up 9/11, briefly saying, “Allow us to not neglect that 19 mujahideen, the soldiers of Islam, stabbed America in its coronary heart … an harm the like of which America had ever tasted earlier than, and as we speak it’s making its exit from Afghanistan, damaged, defeated, after twenty years of warfare.”

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Zawahiri praised quite a few “martyrs” who had died starting in late 2019 and all through 2020, together with Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, a second lieutenant within the Royal Saudi Air Drive who shot and killed  three U.S. Navy sailors at Naval Air Station Pensacola in December 2019 and who was himself killed by responding presents. Then-Legal professional Basic William Barr mentioned final yr that data on the shooter’s iPhone “definitively establishes Alshamrani’s connections to al Qaeda within the Arabian Peninsula.”

Zawahiri additionally praised Qasim al Raymi, a former deputy of his who had been the chief of al Qaeda within the Arabian Peninsula and who was killed by the U.S. in February of final yr, and Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, the previous head of al Qaeda within the Islamic Maghreb who died in a French navy operation in June 2020.

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“Ayman al-Zawahiri survived 20 years of America’s warfare and numerous dangerous takes. Within the newly launched video, he praises Hurras al-Din’s Jan. 1, 2021 assault on a Russian base in Raqqa, Syria. So both that is his ghost or, you understand, he did not die final yr,” Lengthy Warfare Journal senior editor Thomas Joscelyn tweeted this weekend. “Take into account that Zawahiri is older, a health care provider, and we live within the age of COVID. He isn’t dumb. That is influenced his protocols. He additionally is aware of that the U.S. orchestrated a marketing campaign to get as many AQ leaders as attainable in 2019 and 2020 — extra intense than standard… Now that he is not useless everybody can return to pretending he is not related anyway.”

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Dr. Amin al Haq, who had been bin Laden’s safety chief, returned to Afghanistan with nice fanfare in August after the autumn of Kabul, with a video exhibiting him guarded by a big convoy of armed Taliban fighters. It isn’t probably that Zawahiri will make such a public look.

Zawahiri’s terror resume is many years within the making. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood as a young person and based the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a bunch that sought to overthrow the secular Egyptian authorities. Zawahiri was later arrested in a plot to assassinate Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. After his jihadist group merged with al Qaeda within the Nineties, he turned bin Laden’s deputy and assisted with al Qaeda’s lethal 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa and the assault on the USS Cole in 2000, which left 17 U.S. sailors useless.

A U.N. report from June concluded  that “a big a part of the management of al Qaeda resides within the Afghanistan and Pakistan border area.” The U.N. mentioned “giant numbers of al Qaeda fighters and different overseas extremist components aligned with the Taliban are positioned in varied elements of Afghanistan” with “numerous senior figures killed, typically alongside Taliban associates whereas co-located with them.”

Zawahiri’s tenure at al Qaeda is taken into account to be a combined success: He has held the group collectively regardless of vital U.S. counterterrorism pressures, however the breakaway  of the Islamic State from al Qaeda occurred in 2014 underneath his watch, with the rivalry persevering with to this present day.

ISIS-Ok, the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan, is believed to be chargeable for the suicide bombing on the Kabul airport, which killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of others. The Taliban, the Haqqani Community, and al Qaeda are deeply intertwined in Afghanistan, and the Taliban has built-in Haqqani Community leaders and fighters with al Qaeda hyperlinks into its command construction.



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