As Americans Commemorate 9/11 Anniversary, Al Qaeda Chief Calls for Attacks on US, Israel

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
September 11, 2019 Updated: September 11, 2019

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri has called on jihadists to launch attacks on the west in a speech on the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Intelligence groups tracking the online activity of jihadist organizations reported about the video where the 68-year-old leader of the terrorist group called for attacks of U.S., European, Israeli and Russian targets. He also condemned jihadists—who are known as “backtrackers”—who changed their views in prison and criticized the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks because innocent lives were taken.

The speech was recorded in a 33-minute, 28-second video produced by the group’s as-Sahab Media Foundation.

In his speech, al-Zawahri referenced President Donald Trump’s March acknowledgment of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory. The Al Qaeda chief then urged Palestinians to seek “martyrdom” by attacking Israelis with a suicide vest in response.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed after terrorists affiliated with Al Qaeda piloted planes that crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and on a field in Pennsylvania.

During a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony at the Pentagon earlier today, the president issued a warning to the Taliban and other terrorist groups that he would use unprecedented force against them if they decide to attack the United States again.

“If for any reason, they come back to our country, we will go wherever they are, and use power, the likes of which the United States has never used before—and I’m not even talking about nuclear power,” Trump said. “They will never have seen anything like what will happen to them. No enemy on earth can match the overwhelming strength skill and might of the American armed forces.”

Al-Zawahri, an Egyptian, became leader of al-Qaida following the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALs. He is widely believed to be hiding somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions. A July report by the U.N. cited reports that he is “in poor health” but provided no details.

Trump Cancels Peace Talks With Taliban

Along with his warning on Sept. 11, Trump reiterated that the secret peace talks at Camp David with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Taliban leaders were scrapped because the group was showing “unrelenting weakness” when they launched a terror attack in Kabul, which left 12 people dead including a U.S. soldier from Puerto Rico.

The peace talks were scheduled in an attempt to bring an end to the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan that started when the Bush administration invaded the country in October 2001 following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Since then, the United States lost more than 2,400 soldiers and spent more than $800 billion on the war. The United States and NATO formally concluded their combat mission in 2014, but U.S. and allied troops remain, conducting strikes on the ISIS terrorist group and the Taliban, and working to train and build the Afghan military.

During his remarks at the Pentagon, Trump said, “We had peace talks scheduled. A few days ago, I called them off when I learned that they had killed a great American soldier from Puerto Rico and 11 other innocent people.”

“They thought they would use this attack to show strength, but actually what they showed is unrelenting weakness. The last four days, we have hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before. And that will continue,” he added.

The president announced on Sept. 7 that the peace negotiations had been called off after learning about the Kabul attack. He said on Twitter, where he made the announcement, that the Taliban had admitted that they launched the attack in order to “seemingly strengthen their bargaining position.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.