Entries in Ayman al-Zawahiri (15)


Al Qaeda Chief Urges All Muslims to Oppose Syrian Government

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In what could only be described as an ominous turn in the ongoing Syrian conflict, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has put out a call to arms for all Muslims to take the side of rebel forces.

Making his videotaped plea, which was posted on a radical Islamic website, Osama bin Laden's successor said that Syrians must overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which he labeled a "murderous, cancerous regime."

Al-Zawahiri proclaimed, "It is the right of Syrians to protect themselves in all ways possible from injustice, murder, killing and bombardment" -- a reference to the onslaught of al-Assad's forces against both rebels and civilians in a furious bid to stay in power.

The al Qaeda leader added that Muslims all over the world must help Syrians in their efforts to oust al-Assad.

While Washington also seeks to depose al-Assad, the Obama administration is also concerned that replacement leaders could be unduly influenced by al Qaeda, further complicating the situation in Syria.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Leader Urges Followers to Avenge US Quran Burning

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Al Qaeda is attempting to stir up anti-U.S. sentiment in the Muslim world by once again bringing up last February's burning of Qurans at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

During a new audio posted on radical Islamic websites Wednesday, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahari recalled the incident that led to riots in Afghanistan, which resulted in the deaths of several American service personnel.

Since destroying the Islamic holy book is the ultimate sacrilege, al-Zawahari called on all Muslims to fight "those aggressors who occupied your countries, stole your wealth and violated your sanctities."

Even though the U.S. issued apologies immediately after the incident came to light, the al Qaeda chief said that Americans and their allies only pretended to be sorry for the Quran burning, calling it a "silly farce."

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant messages, verified the authenticity of the audio posting.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


al Qaeda Leader Remembers Weepy, 'Delicate' Bin Laden

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a new video, al Qaeda's new leader invites viewers to take a moment to remember the "delicate," "human side" of Osama bin Laden, the terrorist leader who gleefully claimed responsibility for the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al Qaeda deputy who slipped into the top spot at al Qaeda after bin Laden was taken out by a team of U.S. Navy SEALs in May, claims in the recently released video that he has been asked by "his brethren" to talk about his time with bin Laden and "shed light on the human side of Osama bin Laden -- his noble, refined side."

"People probably don't know, they remember the lion of Islam threatening America and [former President George W.] Bush, but people don't know that he was a very delicate, nice, shy man," Zawahiri says in the video, which also features a dramatic musical score and a photo montage of bin Laden.

Absent from the video is the common sight of Zawahiri's automatic rifle at his side, as is the violent rhetoric and typical calls for attacks on the U.S. Instead, Zawahiri speaks for half an hour about his fond memories of tender times with bin Laden.

"He was known for crying and tearing up very easily," Zawahiri says. "He would tell me that certain brothers would tell him to try and hold them back a bit and I told him that it was a blessing he had."

For a decade before his death bin Laden was America's most wanted terrorist and sported the highest bounty on the U.S. government's Rewards for Justice program -- $27 million. In addition to claiming responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, bin Laden was wanted for his connection to the 1998 bombing of U.S, embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, which claimed more than 200 lives.

His death, one U.S. official told ABC News, marked the "single greatest victory in the U.S.-led campaign to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda."

President Barack Obama said of bin Laden's death that "justice has been done" and it was a "good day for America."

After bin Laden's death and that of high-profile terror recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, Zawahiri is now America's most wanted terrorist and the U.S. government is offering $25 million for information leading to his capture.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Zawahiri Celebrates 'Defeat' of America in New Video

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- In a new video, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri celebrates the fall of Arab "despots," as well as what he calls "the defeats of their master America," including 9/11 and U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"[Osama bin Laden] attacked America at its core in the biggest attacks since Pearl Harbor," says Zawahiri in the 13-minute video, released on jihadist websites late Tuesday, and calls the U.S. "the symbol of murder in human history." He says America "was defeated in Iraq and had to withdraw," and has also been "defeated in Afghanistan, where it was started to withdraw.

Wearing a white turban and sitting in an armchair, without the rifle he has had by his side in past messages, Zawahiri also calls the regime changes in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt defeats for the U.S.

The message is the sixth that Zawahiri has released since the death of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in a U.S. Navy SEAL raid in May, and the fourth released since Zawahiri assumed command of the terror group in June.

Zawahiri, 60, an Egyptian-born doctor, helped found al Qaeda with bin Laden, merging bin Laden's group with his own Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Together they issued a fatwa in 1998, believed to have been authored by Zawahiri, called "World Islamic Front Against Jews and Crusaders," and also called a general meeting of al Qaeda.

Their shared career of terror began with the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania later that year, and continued with the USS Cole attack of 2000 and then 9/11. Zawahiri is under indictment in the U.S. for the embassy attacks. Since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the U.S. has offered $25 million for information leading to the death or capture of Zawahiri.

Zawahiri officially assumed control of al Qaeda in June. In a message released in August, just three weeks before the tenth anniversary of 9/11, he urged "Muslim brothers everywhere" to continue to target the United States, and to avenge bin Laden's death.

"America today is staggering," said Zawahiri. "Hunt her down wherever you may encounter her. Hunt her down to cut what is left of her corruption's tail."

"Pursue America, which killed the 'Imam of the Mujahedeen' and threw his body into the sea, and then captured his women and sons," said Zawahiri. "Hunt her down until history says that a murderous country spread corruption in the earth so God sent his faithful to her to make an example out of her."

Immediately prior to the anniversary, U.S. officials were scrambling to sort through information that the CIA developed indicating that at least three individuals entered the U.S. in August by air with the intent to launch a vehicle-borne attack against Washington, D.C., or New York around the anniversary, according to intelligence officials.

Officials say the alleged terror plot, which they described as specific and credible, was initiated by Zawahiri.

Zawahiri also applauded the Arab Spring revolutions in a tape released in September, entitled "The Dawn of Imminent Victory," as a devastating blow to American interests. In that message, he also praised the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks as "invasions" that "shook the foundations of the global crusaders and still shake it."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Releases New Video Lauding 9/11 Attacks

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Al Qaeda's latest message came too late to upstage America's commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Still, the newest video posted on radical Islamic websites from new leader Ayman al-Zawahiri offered a stark reminder that the terrorist group is still bent on wreaking more havoc in the U.S. a decade after 19 hijackers disrupted the American way of life.

The monitoring group SITE Intelligence said Tuesday that the video entitled "The Dawn of Imminent Victory" features remarks by al-Zawahiri about this year's revolutions in Arab nations and the death of his predecessor, Osama bin Laden, while praising the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.

It also features footage of bin Laden, which is from the same videos seized by Navy SEALS in Pakistan after they killed the al Qaeda chief last May.

Al-Zawahiri has also been targeted for assassination by the U.S. and remains in hiding.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


9/11 Message? New Al Qaeda Leader Calls for US Attacks

File photo. (AFP/Getty Images)(WASHINGTON) -- In a video released three weeks before the 9/11 anniversary, new al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urges followers to continue to target the United States.

Dressed in white, with his automatic weapon leaning against his left side, Zawahiri urges "Muslim brothers everywhere" to pursue America in the 12-minute video.

"America today is staggering," said Zawahiri. "Hunt her down wherever you may encounter her. Hunt her down to cut what is left of her corruption's tail."

Zawahiri took over leadership of al Qaeda following the May 2 U.S. raid which killed bin Laden in Pakistan.

"Pursue America, which killed the 'Imam of the Mujahedeen' and threw his body into the sea, and then captured his women and sons," said Zawahiri. "Hunt her down until history says that a murderous country spread corruption in the earth so God sent her to his faithful to make an example out of her."

The video appeared Monday morning on a website which often posts al Qaeda videos, although the only clue when it was recorded is a reference to a specific date is the death of bin Laden.

There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials, who have warned that new attacks on U.S. targets are likely around the Sept. 11 anniversary, especially in the wake of bin Laden's death.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Leader in Yemen Pledges Allegiance to Zawahiri

-/AFP/Getty Images(SANA'A, Yemen) -- In a 10-minute audio message posted on Islamist websites Tuesday, the head of al Qaeda's Yemen affiliate vowed loyalty to Osama bin Laden's successor and promised to keeping fighting against Yemen's American-allied government.

On behalf of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Nasser al-Wahishi officially recognized Ayman al-Zawahiri as the new global leader of al Qaeda. Zawahiri, a 60-year-old Egyptian doctor, was proclaimed the terror group's chieftain one month after bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs in a May 1 raid on his Pakistani compound.

"I give you allegiance of obedience in good and hard times, in ease and difficulty," says the message, "and in fighting the enemies of Allah as much as I can -- myself and your loyal soldiers who are with me [on] the Arabian Peninsula."

Both Saudi Arabia and Yemen consider Wahishi among their most wanted terrorists. Wahishi served as Osama bin Laden's secretary in Afghanistan until 2001. He was arrested in Iran and handed over to Yemen. With 22 other captives, he escaped from a Yemeni prison in 2006.

In the new audio messages, Wahishi also says that AQAP would keep fighting until it overthrows the government of embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled for more than three decades. Saleh was badly wounded by shrapnel in June, and has endured months of public protest against his regime, but has not relinquished power.

The audio's release comes a day after Yemeni government forces killed a top AQAP commander and nearly 20 other militants in southern Yemen, according to government claims that were later confirmed by tribal leaders.

AQAP and radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki have been linked to multiple terror attacks on U.S. targets in the past two years, including the Fort Hood massacre, the failed "underwear" bombing of Northwest flight 253 over Detroit and the printer bomb plot, in which bombs shipped by cargo plane were intercepted before they reached their targets in the U.S.

With the aid of the Saleh government, the U.S. has used airstrikes to try to kill Awlaki. A U.S. missile strike in Southern Yemen just days after bin Laden's death just missed Awlaki.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Names Ayman Al-Zawahiri as New Leader

AFP/Getty Images(ISLAMABAD) -- Ayman al-Zawahiri, the man was believed to be Osama bin Laden's top lieutenant, has been named al Qaeda's new leader, according to a statement posted online by the organization.

"Sheikh Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, may God guide him, assumed responsibility as the group's amir," the statement reads.

“We ask God for this to be a new era for al Qaeda under the leadership of Ayman Al-Zawahiri, an era that will purify Muslim land of every tyrant and infidel,” it continues.

No specifics were given as to how the 59-year-old Egyptian doctor was selected for his new title role, although the decision came as no surprise to many.  Al-Zawahiri helped found al Qaeda with bin Laden and was long speculated to succeed the leader after he was killed.

Al-Zawahiri, founder of the Egyptian extremist group Egyptian Islamic Jihad, also sports the largest bounty offered for information on any terrorist by the U.S. government -- $25 million -- and is wanted for his role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, which claimed 224 lives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Deputy Surfaces, Vows Revenge for Bin Laden's Death

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Appearing to assume the role as the new leader of al Qaeda, the former number two Ayman al-Zawahiri vowed to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden "blood for blood," in a video posted on the Internet Wednesday morning.

The 28-minute video is the first statement from the 59-year-old al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian doctor, to acknowledge the death of bin Laden, killed in a U.S. Navy SEAL raid into Pakistan last month.  Looking aged, and at times angry, al-Zawahiri used a chopping motion with his hands and urged his followers to remember the 9/11 attacks against Americans and made a point to recall the deaths of U.S. military personnel at the Pentagon.

Al-Zawahiri did not specifically mention whether he was now the leader of the terror group's global jihad, but his tone and words suggested he had the legitimacy to succeed bin Laden.

His anger was apparent as he criticized the U.S. for the manner in which bin Laden was reportedly buried at sea from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.  He called it not Islamic, but "the Islam of the United States, the Islam of Obama."

Elsewhere in the message, in which al-Zawahiri appeared with an automatic rifle to his side, he urged the youth of Pakistan to follow the lead of the youth of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Syria in seeking to overthrow the government.

Al-Zawahiri, founder of the Egyptian extremist group Egyptian Islamic Jihad, also helped found al Qaeda with bin Laden.  He sports the largest bounty offered for information on any terrorist by the U.S. government -- $25 million -- and is wanted for his role in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, which claimed 224 lives.

Al-Zawahiri made his last video appearance in April in which he discussed the revolt in Libya and called on Libyans to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi before "Western aid...turns into invasions." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Stalls on Naming Osama Bin Laden Successor 

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- One of the reasons that al Qaeda has not yet named a replacement for Osama bin Laden is because there's possible confusion within the ranks as to who was actually second-in-command during the slain leader's long tenure.

It was reported in The Wall Street Journal that the person assumed to be bin Laden's top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, actually "parted ways" with his boss six years ago.

According to a senior Pakistani intelligence official quoted by the newspaper, al-Zawahiri was "marginalized" and lost popularity because he didn't have the funds to continue helping underwrite al Qaeda operations.

However, the The Wall Street Journal also cites U.S. officials as questioning any rift between al-Zawahiri, the group's chief ideologue and operational commander, and bin Laden.

The 59-year-old is still believed to be the logical choice to run al Qaeda, which indeed may have cash-flow problems, U.S. counterterrorism officials told the Journal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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