Al Qaeda chief urges Westerner kidnappings

DUBAI Sat Apr 26, 2014 8:43am EDT

A photo of Al Qaeda's new leader, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, is seen in this still image taken from a video released on September 12, 2011. REUTERS/SITE Monitoring Service via Reuters TV

A photo of Al Qaeda's new leader, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, is seen in this still image taken from a video released on September 12, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/SITE Monitoring Service via Reuters TV

DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has called on Muslims to kidnap Westerners, particularly Americans, who could then be exchanged for jailed jihadists including a blind Egyptian cleric convicted in 1995 of conspiring to attack the United Nations and other New York landmarks.

In a wide ranging audio interview, the al Qaeda leader expressed solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood which is facing a violent crackdown by the army-backed government in Egypt and urged unity among rebels in their fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the Zawahiri tape, but the voice resembled that of the al Qaeda leader.

"I ask Allah the Glorious to help us set free Dr. Omar Abdel-Rahman and the rest of the captive Muslims, and I ask Allah to help us capture from among the Americans and the Westerners to enable us to exchange them for our captives," said Zawahiri, according to the SITE website monitoring service.

Abdel-Rahman is serving a life term in the United States for a 1993 attack on New York's World Trade Center.

Zawahiri also urged "jihad and overthrowing the criminal al-Assad regime" in Syria and renewed his call to end infighting among jihadists that increased this year, pitting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against rival rebels including other hardline Islamists.

"The Ummah (Muslim world) must support this jihad with all that it can, and the mujahideen (Islamist militants) must unite around the word of Tawhid (unity)," said Zawahiri, an Egyptian-born doctor.

"So everyone should prioritize the interest of Islam and the Ummah over his organizational or partisans interest, even if he gives up for his brothers what he sees as right."

The infighting between the different rebel factions has hindered the battle against Assad and pushed rival rebel groups to consolidate power in their respective areas of control.

Al Qaeda said it was breaking with ISIL in February after disputes over the group's refusal to limit itself to fighting in Iraq rather than in Syria, where the Nusra Front is al Qaeda's affiliate.

Asked about the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Zawahiri answered: "the duty on every Muslims is to deter the aggressor by any means, and especially the oppressed Muslims."

Security forces have killed hundreds of Brotherhood supporters and arrested thousands, including most of its leaders, since the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mursi on July 3 following mass protests against his rule.

Egypt designated the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization last year.

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Mark Potter)

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Comments (7)
111Dave111 wrote:
Time for Ayman al-Zawahiri to retire. He will turn 63 on June 19th, and probably is sick of living in solitude with poor health-care. Doctor heal thyself.

Apr 26, 2014 8:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
njglea wrote:
Egypt has one thing right. People around the world must destroy all terrorists, which are a tiny minority of the population, before they drag us into more wars. Particularly those who pretend they are faith based. I know of no higher power that approves terrorism and killing in it’s name. Including christianity.

Apr 26, 2014 11:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
343434 wrote:
Dead man walking

Apr 26, 2014 12:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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