Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri, in a newly disseminated video, urges the group’s jihadi followers to “unite in confronting” the top enemy of all Muslims across the world, the United States and its “blatant crusader,” President Donald Trump.
— Angel Molina (@aingeru074) March 22, 2018
He goes on to identify the primary goal of al-Qaeda’s jihad as restoring the “rightly guided Caliphate” and all of the lands once held by Muslims, extending from Jerusalem to Spain, noting that the territory is still “ours.”
Zawahiri’s declaration echoes Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s announcement when he established the now-dismantled worldwide caliphate in June 2014.
The U.S.-led coalition and its allies have diminished the Islamic State (ISIS) “caliphate” by 98 percent, but dangerous pockets remain.
The near single-eyed focus of that coalition in defeating ISIS has allowed al-Qaeda to grow stronger, particular in Syria, which reportedly houses the most active wing of the Osama bin Laden legacy group.
The Long War Journal acknowledges:
Zawahiri says “the goal of our jihad is the restoration of the rightly guided Caliphate” and all of the territory once controlled by Muslims from Jerusalem to Spain is still “ours.”
Of course, this doesn’t mean al Qaeda thinks Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State (ISIS) is the answer. Al Qaeda rejects Baghdadi’s caliphate project as illegitimate, and the two jihadist organizations have rivaled each other for power since 2014.
Zawahiri encourages extremists to rally up and try to mirror the attacks of 9/11 against the American homeland, saying:
The Mujahidin will defeat America – Allah permitting – for the sake of Allah, and the scholars working and the sincere makers of [worship] and the united Ummah [Muslim community] under the banner of Tawhid [monotheism]. Here is our Muslim Ummah so let us fight America everywhere as they transgress against us everywhere, let us unite in confronting it, and do not divide, and come together and not split up, and unite and not divide.
The March 20 video is the latest in a series of messages released by the al-Qaeda leader, notes the Long War Journal, adding, “Zawahiri begins his talk by claiming that President Trump is a ‘blatant crusader’ who has “revealed the true face of America, and the true psychology of a majority of the American people toward Muslims.”
“The policies of America and its cheating crusader leader – without a doubt – clarified that the effective way in confronting its aggression is via the way of da’wah [proselytization] and jihad,” notes the al-Qaeda leader.
Citing late al-Qaeda leader bin Laden, the new jihadi chief stresses that the Muslim community’s (ummah) “first enemy is America,” which is “the head of the snake.”
Zawahiri went on to note that “religious hostility” is at the root of the animosity between the United States and jihadists across the world.
Many liberals, particularly under the administration of former President Barack Obama, sought to extinguish any religious references to the ongoing U.S. military conflicts against Islamic extremists, refusing to use radical Islamic extremism or any variation of the phrase.
Now, the top al-Qaeda leader himself acknowledges the conflict between jihadists and the United States is of a religious nature.
“The video was the Al Qaeda chief’s sixth of 2018, and in a sign of how recently it was filmed, he refers to former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as ‘fired,’” notes the Long War Journal.
Predictions by U.S. military officials that ISIS would regroup following its major defeat in Libya’s Sirte, once considered the organization’s most massive stronghold outside of Iraq and Syria, appear to be coming to fruition.
In Africa, al-Qaeda’s presence is strongest in Western and Eastern Africa (al-Shabaab).