Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri appeared in a new video marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, months after rumors spread that he was dead
BEIRUT – Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri has appeared in a new video marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, months after rumors spread that he was dead.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist websites, said the video was released on Saturday. In it, al-Zawahri said “Jerusalem will never be Judaized” and hailed al-Qaida attacks, including one that targeted Russian troops in Syria in January.
SITE said al-Zawahri also noted the withdrawal of the US military from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. He added that his comments did not necessarily indicate a recent recording, as the withdrawal agreement with the Taliban was signed in February 2020.
Al-Zawahri made no mention of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the capital Kabul last month, SITE added. But he mentioned a January 1 attack that targeted Russian troops on the outskirts of the city of Raqqa in northern Syria.
Rumors have spread since late 2020 that al-Zawahri died of illness. Since then, no video or evidence of life has surfaced, until Saturday.
“He could still be dead, but if he was, it would have been at some point in January 2021 or after,” tweeted Rita Katz, director of SITE.
Al-Zawahri’s speech was recorded in a 61-minute and 37-second video produced by the group’s as-Sahab Media foundation.
ISIS’s physical “caliphate” has been crushed in Iraq and Syria, although its militants are still active and carry out attacks. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the dark head of ISIS, was killed by US special forces during a raid in northwestern Syria in October 2019.
Al-Zawahri, an Egyptian, became the leader of al-Qaida after the 2011 assassination of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, by the US Navy SEALs.