DUBAI (Reuters) - The Yemen-based wing of al Qaeda called on Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula to wage jihad, or holy war, against Christians and Jews in the region.
“The Christians, the Jews, and the treacherous apostate rulers have pounced on you...you have no other way out from this plight other than to wage jihad,” the wing’s deputy leader, Saeed al-Shehri, a former Saudi inmate at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, said in an audio tape posted on a website often used by Islamist groups.
Shehri was one of 30 al Qaeda members that Yemen claimed to have killed in an air strike in December but this was later denied by the global militant network.
“We advise you, our people in the Peninsula, to prepare and carry your weapons and to defend your religion and yourselves and to join your mujahideen brothers,” he said.
Shehri said the Yemen-based wing’s failed bomb attack on a U.S. bound plane in December had been carried out in coordination with network leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden claimed responsibility for the attack in January, weeks after the al Qaeda in Yemen first said it was behind the operation.
Shehri said a conference convened in London last month where high-level officials discussed how to stabilize Yemen showed there was an ideological war being waged against Muslims in Yemen by the West.
Shehri said U.S. forces had killed Yemeni women and children with what he termed “espionage planes,” an apparent reference to unmanned drones.
Yemen has said it would not allow direct foreign military intervention in its fight against al Qaeda, which could play into the hands of the militants.
Shehri also addressed his call for jihad to a number of Yemeni tribes, including to the sheikhs of the “Houtha,” in what appeared to be a reference to the northern Shi’ite rebels known as the Houthis.
Yemen has been fighting a northern rebellion from a minority Shi’ite sect since 2004 and is also struggling with a secessionist movement in the south.
Reporting by Raissa Kasolowsky and Andrew Hammond; Editing by Angus MacSwan