Despite rumors of his death since late last year, Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri appeared in a video released by the terrorist group on Saturday, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
Zawahri’s remarks: In a 61-minute, 37-second video, Zawahri addressed a range of topics, including an Al-Qaida attack on Russian troops in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa on January 1, 2021.
Rumors have been circulating since late 2020 that the leader died, so the reference to the January 1 attack indicates that he at least survived into 2021.
Zawahri also referenced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, but that had been announced in an agreement negotiated by the Trump administration with the Taliban in February 2020, leaving the intelligence community to speculate as to whether Zawahri is still alive.
In the video, Zawahri also emphasized, “Jerusalem Will Never be Judaized.”
What this means: Rita Katz, Director of SITE Intelligence Group, which broke the story, had this to say about the video:
“Zawahiri doesn’t mention Taliban’s Afghanistan victory, and his talk of US ‘making its exit from Afghanistan’ could have been said early as Feb 2020 upon Doha Agreement. Thus, he could still be dead, though if so, would have been at some point in or after Jan 2021.”
“Nonetheless, intelligence agencies have, as of yet, offered no proof or solid assessments that Zawahiri is dead, leaving the question of his current status in the air,” Katz added.
Zawahiri became leader of Al-Qaida in 2011 after Navy SEALs killed former leader Osama bin Laden at his bunker in Pakistan.
Worth noting: Katz also noted in a series of posts how Al-Qaida uses the anniversary of 9/11 to promote their brand and recruit new members in ever-evolving and continually more sophisticated media campaigns.
“Pro-AQ media groups are outpouring with 9/11 celebrations and incitements: posters, videos, hashtags, etc,” she wrote. “It is a very organized and thoroughly prepped campaign–nothing like what I’ve seen in previous years.”
See the tweets:
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