Al-Qaeda Video Highlights Jihadi Responses, Including Attacks, To Insults Against The Prophet, Claims COVID Is 'Divine Punishment' For 'Anti-Islam Campaign' Led By France

July 15, 2021

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On July 15, 2021, Al-Qaeda's central media outlet, Al-Sahab, released a new video titled "An Unpardonable Crime – Part I," highlighting the group's response to the perceived insult to Prophet Mohammad by the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.[1] The new video included only archival clips and audio statements from the group's leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and neither confirmed nor denied rumors of his death.

The 41-minute video, which included English subtitles, with the narrator underlining the status of Prophet Muhammad among Muslims, and the way he was praised by Allah in Quran, stressing that "if the entire Christendom were to unite to eclipse the sun [i.e. Muhammad] they would not succeed."

Footage of French President Emmanuel Macron was shown as the narrator condemned those who seek to insult the Prophet, citing several Islamic scholars, including Sayed Qutab, and their denouncement of such detractors.

The narrator said that COVID-19 is divine punishment, which spread severely in countries that mocked the Prophet, especially France.

The virus, continued the narrator, "ruined [Western] economies," noting that many world leaders, including "Zionist-Crusader Macron," chose to launch "a new anti-Islam" campaign mid-pandemic.

The video showed clips of Macron addressing risings tensions in France over the republication of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

The narrator then listed the actions allegedly perpetrated by the French government against Muslim women and men.

This was followed by archival footage of Abu Yahya al-Libi, the Al-Qaeda deputy leader who escaped American custody in 2005 and was killed in 2012 drone strike in Pakistan, in which he said that the concept of freedom of expression is being used to justify attacks on Islam and its scared symbols.

The narrator then argued that the republication of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons is further evidence of the West's determination to move forward with its anti-Islam campaign, highlighting "the raid that shall be written in ink of gold, which avenged the Prophet," possibly referring to the 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices.

Next appeared footage of Al-Qaeda top leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, sitting in a studio and facing the camera as he describes the Charlie Hebdo attack, saying: "There is another great victory which is as significant as some of the earlier victories [i.e. the 9/11 attacks] and one that was promised by sheikh Osama [Bin Laden]."

Al-Zawahiri then recites a poem glorifying jihad and Islam and concludes by condemning "Trump." The video then included archival clips featuring several senior Al-Qaeda leaders from different branches of the group, followed by an audio recording of Al-Zawahiri urging Muslims around the world to defend the Prophet and target Western interests, dubbing the confrontation a "war" between "Islam and disbelief, [between] the crusaders and the Islamic ummah."   

"Are you ready to avenge His honor with their blood? This war is your war, this cause is your cause," said Al-Zawahiri.

The narrator then described several attacks carried out in response to Al-Zawahiri's call, including the 2008 suicide attack on the Danish Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. Footage showing the final message of the preparator was then shown, in which he warned Westerners that the Mujahideen will never let them rest in peace. The perpetrator then points to the car-bomb he later used, saying: "This explosive-laden car is your fate."


The video also highlighted the attack carried out by Mohammed Bouyeri, a Moroccan-Dutch man who killed Dutch film director Theo van Gogh in 2004 for making a short film about Islam and violence against women.

Condemning Arab governments and leaders for their support of the West's anti-Islam campaign, the video cited Saudi education reforms as a distortion of Islam.


The video then showed former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson discussing cooperation with the Saudi government to establish a global center to counter extremism and its narrative. 


[1] Rocket.Chat, Al-Sahab, July 15, 2021.

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