In the wake of the death of prominent cleric Abu Al-Hassan Al-Bulaidi in an ambush by Algerian forces, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of Al Qaeda’s most dangerous franchises, has released an audio message by one of its senior officials, Ibrahim Al-Qusi, calling for attacks on Western targets, including theUnited States and France.
The audio message, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor, began with Al-Qusi offering condolences to AQAP’s sister group, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), upon the death of Al-Bulaidi, AQIM’s shari’a committee head.
According to MEMRI, Al-Qusi, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, praised AQIM’s attacks on Western targets and vowed that jihad against America and France would continue.
“Fear Allah with regard to your jihad! Fear Allah with regard to your front!” Al-Qusi stated. “You are the guards of the western gate. You protect the religion and the honor and you are the ones fighting the French and the Americans and those collaborators and traitors who follow them. You are exemplars of steadfastness and the masters of the mujahideen…”
Al-Qusi continued, “Your recent operations in the Sahara region against France and its collaborators have been the best amusement for us, we are right to be proud of your heroics and sacrifices.”
Al-Qusi encouraged them to continue their war against the West, saying, “We will not let go of the West led by America until it stops supporting Israel and until it [the US] stops occupying the lands of the Muslims.”
He added, “The banu al-asfar [Europeans, Westerners, Christians] in New York or Paris will not live in security at a time when our people in Palestine and elsewhere live in fear. If the enemy prolongs the war – we are more patient in it… we will not abandon the jihad until we attain glory for this nation or perish…”
Al-Qusi’s message highlights the threat of “homegrown” and foreign jihadist groups and individuals plotting attacks on Western targets, particularly in the aftermath of the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. According to a previous report by Homeland Security Today, AQIM is active in more than 30 countries on four continents—representing a more far-flung geographical entrenchment than before the tragic September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Following the attacks on the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo earlier this year, the Twitter account for AQIM published a banner supporting the attack. MEMRI said, “The banner cites the verse from the Koran which stipulates that anyone who harms Allah or the Prophet will be punished in this world and the next world.”
AQAP, which has attempted numerous thwarted attacks in the US, claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
In July, AQAP’s new leader, Qassem Al Rimi declared in a 14-minute message released via AQAP’s official Twitter account, @AALMOJA3, that loyal jihadists must carry out attacks in the United States. Al Rimi said, “Oh Americans, what have you done beyond fulfilling the [martyrdom] wish of a knight from the knights of the Muslims?”
Moreover, in September, AQAP’s senior commander Khaled Batarfi called on Muslims and jihadi groups to make attacking the US a "top priority.” Batarfi said, “It has been proven that the US is not able to protect its homeland security as well as its interests around the world, which makes it difficult to defend. By attacking the US, we would force it to adopt isolation and as a result, abandon Israel.”
Although ISIS tends to get the headlines, Al-Qusi’s message, as well as the repeated calls for attacks on the US by Al Qaeda and its affiliates, show that Al Qaeda continues to pose a significant threat to the security of the Western world.