A new 28-minute video from al-Qaeda leader Ayman al- Zawahiri calls on jihadist factions to unify against the “international Satanic alliance,” arguing that a global front will defeat the United States and allies focused on defeating terrorist groups in regional pockets.
“Had the sheikh retreated in the face of American threats and sufficed with a regional jihad narrow in its scope — in the Arabian Peninsula alone, for example — he would not have elicited such a response as a leader of the mujahideen and an imam among the imams and revivers of Muslims, and he would not have been able to set in motion such a widespread awakening in different parts of the Muslim world,” Zawahiri said of late leader Osama bin Laden in the message “We Shall Fight You Until There Is No More Persecution.”
The way of bin Laden and “al-Qaeda after him,” he said, is “confronting the head of global disbelief first, while working at the same time on jihad against the local client regimes, because the war is eventually a single war, and it is not detached except in the imagination of someone who does not have a correct perception of the situation.”
To this end, he encouraged the Muslim community , or ummah, to “unite and work in harmony with one another.”
“Communicate, link up with each other and extend a helping hand to your Muslim brothers in all Muslim lands. This is the surest way to victory,” the al-Qaeda leader added, noting “we are facing the fiercest attack in the history of Muslims.”
“There is no way out for us except uniting our ranks to confront this aggression. Let us mobilize our efforts, divide our roles, distribute our responsibilities and together diffuse the efforts of the enemy.”
It was unclear when the video message was recorded, yet after three U.S. Special Forces soldiers were killed and two injured during routine counterterrorism operations in Niger — without a claim of responsibility yet — Zawahiri singled out for praise jihadists in Mali, whose cross-border incursions sparked the state of emergency in Niger.
He lauded “the lions of Islam in Mali, who have raised the morale of the mujahideen and sincere Muslims.”
“They have solidified their ranks, like a fortified wall, and increased the robustness and cohesion of the front of the Islamic Maghreb,” the al-Qaeda leader added.
The Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims, an umbrella coalition established in March consisting of al-Qaeda loyal groups in Mali including the local branch of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, was seen as a shrewd alliance that cemented al-Qaeda as the dominant jihadist force in the region. ISIS (Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, or ISGS) also operates in the region.
“Since unity is the way to victory, therefore dismantling the jihadi assembly has been among the principle goals of America and its client regimes in the Islamic and Arab world,” Zawairi continued. “They seek to unravel its bonds, break its mutual links and turn the jihad of the ummah into a regional jihad and then sow discord among the mujahideen in each region, so that they splinter into different groups, fail to achieve their shared goals and their strength eventually dissipates.”
“My Muslim and mujahid brothers, backtracking in the face of American pressure will be of no avail. America will never be pleased with anything short of complete slavery. The Quran testifies to this truth, ‘The Jews and Christians shall never be pleased with you until you follow their ways.’”
After asking “what did those who backtracked in front of America achieve,” he took a shot at the Palestinian Authority leader and argued that the status quo in the region will never defeat Israel: “What did Mahmoud Abbas achieve?”
“You will never be liberated from the clutches of humiliation, subjugation, oppression and corruption unless you engage in an enduring jihad led by resolute and wise leadership that does not renounce its creed, knows no bargaining in its religion and does not sell the rights of its ummah,” Zawahiri said. “…Al-Aqsa will not be liberated, our lands will not be purified of invaders, and our governments will not be purged of tyrants, thieves and outright criminals except by jihad in the way of Allah.”
He praised “steadfast and firm” al-Qaeda outlets “from Kashghar to Timbuktu, from Dhaka to Mombasa, from Philippines to the Aures Mountains, from Grozny to Aden Abyan.”
Zawahiri closed by taking a stab at the Islamic State: “So trust in them. Support them. Be with them. Advise them. Guide them. Rectify them if they err,” he told jihadists of fellow jihadists. “For they are the coming realm, your smiling dawn, and the harbingers of your rightly guided Caliphate.”