Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has urged Muslims to launch attacks on ‘American soil’ to lead up to a ‘war on its own land’.
In an audio speech released online a day after the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, al-Zawahiri urged sustained attacks on the U.S. which he said would ‘bleed America economically’ by forcing the country to spend large amounts on defence.
And he encouraged Muslims to seize any opportunity to land ‘a large strike’ on the U.S. even if this took years of patience, according to a translation on the U.S. SITE monitoring service.
In the excerpts of the 72-minute address that were published by SITE, he said ‘one brother or a few of the brothers’ should launch smaller strikes on the U.S. wherever possible.
Al-Zawahiri, who was Osama Bin Laden’s physician and right-hand man and tops America’s list of ‘most wanted’ terrorists released in 2001 with a £15million bounty on his head, is credited by many as having been the brains behind the 9/11 attacks and those on the London transport system in July 2005 that left 52 people dead.
Western counter-terrorism chiefs have warned that the broadcast could provide fuel for radicalised ‘lone wolves’ who might have had no direct contact with al Qaeda as much as operatives like those who carried out complex plots like the September 11 strikes.
Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks in 2001 when hijacked aeroplanes were flown into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon in Washington and a Pennsylvania field.
Al-Zawahiri was quoted as saying in the speech: ‘We should bleed America economically by provoking it to continue in its massive expenditure on its security, for the weak point of America is its economy, which has already begun to stagger due to the military and security expenditure.’