September 14, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8931

In New Video, Al-Qaeda Leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri Describes U.S. Peace Plan In Middle East As 'Crusade Of The Century', Condemns Normalization With Israel, Slams Al-Jazeera For 2019 Documentary On 9/11 Attacks

September 14, 2020
Special Dispatch No. 8931

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On September 11, 2020 the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Sahab Media Foundation released a video message from the group's top leader, Ayman Al-Zawhiri. The 45-minute video is the first installment in a series titled "The Deal of the Century Or the Crusade of the Century." It was released on the anniversary of Al-Qaeda's terror attacks on the U.S in 2001, although it does not deal with the attacks directly. Al-Zawahiri addressed U.S. President Donald Trump's peace plan for the Middle East in the first part of the video, and then went on to refute allegations made in a documnetary aired in September 2019 on Al-Jazeera regarding cooperation between his organization and official elements in Arab countries. It should be noted that Al-Zawahiri's message does not appear to have been recorded recently, seeing that he does not address any of the momentous events of 2020. The events mentioned by Al-Zawahiri himself that can be dated are the Al-Jazeera documentary from September 2019, and the Peace to Prosperity conference which took place in Manama, Bahrain, in June 2019. [1]

Al-Zawahiri began by addressing Muslims around the world, saying that the "flames of war between the Crusaders and the Muslims have not been extinguished." He highlighted that "America, leader of the West," is taking more "dangerous steps to empower Israel," saying that relocating the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, declaring the Golan Heights to be part of Israel, and launching the Manama Summit, are all among these steps.

The video then showed footage from President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speeches in the January 28, 2020, summit held in the White House, in which Trump's plan was announced. The two leaders highlighted the U.S.'s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel.

Al-Zawhiri then addressed Muslims around the world, highlighting some "historical facts about the "struggle between the Muslims and the Crusaders," saying that the nature of this conflict is a religious one, based on the Zionist-Westerners alliance against Islam. He added that the feelings of Westerners toward Muslims are obvious, but that the latter often tend to ignore them. He further suggested that the conflict between the two sides is an international conflict, not local, and cannot be disconnected from the larger picture.

Al-Zawhiri provided what he called "fundamental principles" to "counter the aggression of the Crusaders," which include emphasizing the principal of jihad and raising awareness to its significance. He stressed that Under this principal, he discussed several "facets," such as the value of unity, political jihad, Dawah [preaching], the jihad of a moral upbringing, and the "battle of raising awareness." Al-Zawahiri also emphasized that the "jihad of da'wah and raising awareness... is more importnat than the military jihad itself."

Moving to another subject, Al-Zawahiri asked three questions: how can Muslims identify their enemies? How can they revive the doctrine of al-Wala wal-Bara [loyalty to Muslims and disassociation from non-Muslims] as a way of life? And whom should Muslims seek guidance from and follow? He then offered his answers, saying that at the top list of the Muslims' enemies are "America and its hirelings among the local rulers, Russia, China, India, and Iran."

Expanding on the notion of normalization with Israel under Trump's plan, Al- Zawahiri emphasized that some rulers of Muslim countries, who have ties with Israel and are active participants in the American- Zionist project, "are among the dangerous type of enemies." He elaborated by saying that these governments are subservient to the West, yet they "claim to defend the ummah while in reality they are effective tools in the inimical plot against Islam and Muslims."

"Some of them maintain secret ties with Israel, while others do so openly and normalize their relations with Israel in full view of the world. Ironically, some of these states claim to support and defend the Arab Revolutions and the Palestinian cause, while in reality they are fully submerged in the swamp of their security agreements with Israel, and their lands are occupied by American bases. They even send their forces to fight under the auspices of NATO regional security alliances in Afghanistan and Somalia," he said.

He added that these states try to protect themselves against the Islamic nations using disinformation campaigns. To illustrate his point, Al-Zawahiri slammed the Qatar-funded Al-Jazeera News Channel for its 2019 documentary on the anniversary of September 11, titled La'iboon bil Naar [Players With Fire] in which the channel portrayed two individuals as "falsely linked to Al-Qaeda," he said. "It described one of them as being among the leadership of Al-Qaeda, while the other was portrayed as an individual close to a group linked to Al-Qaeda, implying that the two had ties with the Bahraini Intelligence."

Al-Zawhiri added: "The first individual, as the story goes, agreed with them to kill some Shia figures, while the second agreed to spy on Iran. In this film, Al-Jazeera added a testimony from a former American Intelligence official who claimed to have found a diary in the pocket of Shaykh Abu Zubaydah which contained the telephone numbers of three Saudi princes."

He described the documentary as a classic example of slander and deception to convince its audience of three "illusions," these are: Linking Muhammad Saleh Ali Muhammad to Al-Qaeda, linking what was attributed to Abu Hafs Al-Balochi by Al-Jazeera to Al-Qaeda, and giving credibility to the accusations made by the former American Intelligence official who appeared in the documentary.

Al-Zawhiri then provided a lengthy account of each "illusion," along with examples and justifications to refute each one and defend the group's reputation. "The Al-Qaeda organization has been unjustly accused of relations with intelligence agencies and states. They accuse us of being agents of America, Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Russia, and Egypt... and so on. They accuse us of being Takfeeris, Murjiah, extremists, and hardliners. They say that we are after money and power; that we are unrealistic, treacherous and disloyal; and that those among us who were killed in Waziristan with their women and children were traders of heroin who were bombed by America, and so on. We seek our reward from Allah for being patient in the face of these accusations. However, here I would like to warn the honorable and free viewers against this distortion. If one wants to judge us, one should see the message of Al-Qaeda, which is the most precious thing we possess. The reception and acceptance of this message by the Ummah is our real victory," he concluded.

[1], As-sahab-mussh-alshab

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