Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri speaks in a video to mark the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (As-Sahab)

Zawahiri to Critics of 9/11 Targets: ‘So Let Us See Your Jihad, Free of “Defects”‘

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri used his 9/11 anniversary address to challenge critics of the targets chosen that day to pick and attack any U.S. military target.

In the 33-minute video released by al-Qaeda’s As-Sahab media and distributed online, Zawahiri reiterated familiar refrains, stating that “with each passing day America exposes more of its Zionist-Crusader materialistic enmity toward Islam and Muslims.”

“Trump followed his announcement of shifting the American embassy to Jerusalem with his recognition of the occupied Golan Heights as part of Israel, revealing thereby America’s true face and its deeply inimical disposition vis a vis the Muslim world,” he said as the video showed extended White House footage of President Trump’s March 25 press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Zawahiri railed against “non-Jew Zionists” from Napoleon to the Earl of Balfour and Lawrence of Arabia, and argued “it is necessary to take the battle to them everywhere” as jihadists in the Palestinian territories operate in “a highly constrained and choked environment.”

After the video stated there are no distinctions between those deemed “oppressors” and those supporting them, Zawahiri added that a jihadist wishing to fight the Israelis can do so “at the place of his choosing” after ensuring “that no harm shall accrue to Muslims as a result of his actions, and that the benefit of his action outweighs the cost” — targets that include “the interests of Israel and its American, British, French, Russian and European allies …spread all over the world” — and leaving a message that the attack “is avenging the crimes in Palestine and all such Muslims lands.”

“This is how we turn the tables on our enemies and force them to reconsider their course of action… we must chase them down everywhere at a time and place of our choosing,” he said.

The al-Qaeda leader called on jihadists to “surveil the enemy and make your preparations,” and “do not expect anyone to help you, except very little perhaps” while being “inventive and creative in your methods.”

The 9/11 hijackers, he said, “turned airplanes into weapons of mass destruction,” and today there “is no dividing line between the local war and the global war.”

“America is extremely keen to prevent jihad from taking place in any part of the world or spreading to America or the West. Thus, when it was struck on its own soil, it realized the danger of this approach. The same pattern was repeated in Madrid and London, and from thereon America launched its propaganda war against what it portrayed as ‘terrorism,'” Zawahiri continued, proceeding to take a jab at homeland security by noting “jobs lined up thereafter to answer America’s call” with a “campaign of scaremongering.”

“Everyone started singing along with America in its choir of ‘terrorism,'” he said.

Zawahiri also claimed the 9/11 attacks did not target innocent civilians, and told critics among the Muslim community that there are U.S. military targets all over the world, “so let us see your jihad, free of ‘defects.'”

Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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