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New Al-Qaida Video Commemorates 9/11 Attacks, Urges Muslim Community to Fight US

The official also said that while al-Qaida still poses a threat to the United States, core al-Qaida has been "decimated," with its leaders preoccupied with internal squabbling

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9/11 Terrorist Attack on World Trade Attack in USA. Image source: youtube.com
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  • In the video, Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri also said that the 9/11 attacks returned the balance between Islam and its enemies
  • In Washington, Many US intelligence officials were aware of the video and disregarded it, saying that their key focus is on ISIL and the war in Syria
  • But some officials from the intelligence community feel that Al-Qaida may still be a threat

Al-Qaida is calling on Muslims to join the terror group’s fight against the United States as it marks the 15th anniversary of the deadly September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In a video released Friday on the internet titled “The Defiers of Injustice,” al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said the 9/11 attacks “returned the balance” between Islam and what it called its materialistic Crusader enemies, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Zawahiri said the attacks reminded Muslims of their power and their “potential to deter aggression.” He also noted ongoing racial disparities in the U.S. and urged black Americans to convert to Islam.

U.S. intelligence officials said they were aware of the video, though at least one official sought to downplay the significance, calling Zawahiri a “marginal figure” fighting for relevance.

Source:VOA
FILE – This still image from video obtained Oct. 26, 2012, courtesy of the Site Intelligence Group, shows al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri speaking in a video, from an undisclosed location, released by al-Qaida’s media arm, as-Sahab. Image source: VOA

The official also said that while al-Qaida still poses a threat to the United States, core al-Qaida has been “decimated,” with its leaders preoccupied with internal squabbling.

Threat factor

Other members of the U.S. intelligence community have been less inclined to dismiss the threat from al-Qaida, however, even though it has been overshadowed by the Islamic State terror group.

During testimony before Congress, this past July, National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen called al-Qaida and its affiliates “a principle counterterrorism priority.”

“We would not tier our priorities in such a way that downgrades al-Qaida in favor of a greater focus on ISIL,” he said in his written testimony, using an acronym for Islamic State. “When we are looking at the terrorism threats that we face as a nation, including to the homeland, al-Qaida still figures prominently.”

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Some U.S. counterterrorism officials also have voiced concern about al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen — al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — which has taken advantage of 16 months of civil war to solidify safe havens in several provinces.

U.S. Homeland Security officials also have warned that al-Qaida still has its sights set on more 9/11-style attacks, again using commercial airplanes to hit symbolic targets.

U.S. National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and FBI Director James Comey (L-R) testify before a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 14, 2016. Source: VOA
U.S. National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and FBI Director James Comey (L-R) testify before a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 14, 2016.
Source: VOA

“Al-Qaida, in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIL continue to see an attack on aviation as an important part of their strategy,” the undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, Brigadier General Francis Taylor, said last month during a talk in Washington.

“[We] have clear indications that our enemies are trying to perfect ways of introducing explosives and other devices onto aircraft for the purpose of destroying them in midflight,” he added.

Jabhat Fatah al-Sham

Other U.S. intelligence officials also remain concerned about Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, which recently formed out of what used to be known as Jabhat al-Nusra, the key al-Qaida affiliate in Syria.

While the new group has renounced its ties with al-Qaida, some intelligence officials and analysts remain skeptical the move was anything more than a stunt to shift public opinion.

Others point to al-Qaida’s ability to survive the onslaught it faced from Islamic State in Syria and elsewhere as a sign the terror organization is anything but decimated.

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“Al-Qaida has emerged from this having survived the challenge [from IS] definitively,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Lingering problem

He also said the new video from al-Qaida leader Zawahiri is neither “a sign of a collapsed organization” nor a sign of a group struggling for relevance.

“It’s the kind of thing you would expect,” said Gartenstein-Ross.

“Underestimating these foes can lead to terrible errors in policy,” he warned. (VOA)

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  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

    Such disgust! Its rather painful that some people between us think that causing terror attacks can have religious significance.

Next Story

US Immigration Agency Opens up on Female Mutilation

Female Mutilation should be stopped, opens up US Immigration Agency

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FILE - A man's T-shirt reads
FILE - A man's T-shirt reads "Stop the Cut," referring to female genital cutting or mutilation, during a social event advocating against the practice at the Imbirikani Girls High School in Imbirikani. VOA

On a few days over the last year, federal agents approached travellers at several U.S. airports — flights bound for or connecting to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Frankfurt, Germany, and Dakar, Senegal.

The officials — part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — weren’t searching for contraband, or guiding bag-sniffing dogs. They were part of a smaller office within the agency that doesn’t focus on detaining and deporting people. Instead, they were handing out printed materials. They wanted to talk about female genital cutting.

JFK. Newark. Washington-Dulles. They targeted some of the country’s biggest international airports. In May, they roamed the gates in Atlanta — in the state where an Ethiopian man deported last year was believed to be the first person criminally convicted in the United States for FGC, sometimes referred to as female genital mutilation or FGM.

ICE declined a request to speak with the agents for details about how the initiative is carried out. There are brochures involved and, according to photos attached to the agency’s news releases, male and female agents chat with women about to board flights abroad.

FGC is a federal crime, the agency says it tells travellers. It can have consequences on child custody, and in immigration cases, too, even if the procedure is performed outside the U.S.

FILE - A badge reads "The power of labor aginst FGM" is seen on a volunteer during a conference on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation in Cairo, Egypt. VOA
FILE – A badge reads “The power of labor aginst FGM” is seen on a volunteer during a conference on International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation in Cairo, Egypt. VOA

An agency spokeswoman told VOA via email that “people were happy to hear that’s why [Homeland Security Investigations, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security] was out there with materials. Some folks have never heard of it; many have but don’t understand it, the extent of the problem and how harmful the procedure and associated complications are. And some women had been subjected themselves to FGM.”

The project is modelled after one in the United Kingdom, an “awareness” campaign designed to talk about the risks of FGC and publicize the criminality of the procedure.

Removing part of the female genitals for nonmedical reasons is a practice concentrated in a few dozen countries, but performed on a smaller scale in many more, including the United States, where cases have been documented dating to as early as the 19th century. Last year, ICE investigators unravelled the Michigan case of a medical doctor performing FGC on young girls.

Reasons given

The justifications can include religious, cultural or pseudomedical rationales, like when U.S. doctors used the procedure to treat “hysteria.” Hundreds of thousands of women and girls in the U.S. are FGC survivors, or are vulnerable to it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mariya Taher, head of Sahiyo — a U.S. nongovernmental organization that advocates for an end to FGC — has spoken publicly about her experience surviving the procedure. Now, her organization is spearheading its own effort to publicize the stories of other survivors in the U.S., with a video project due out this month.

FILE - A counselor talks to a group of women to try to convince them that they should not have subject their daughters to female genital mutilation, in Minia, Egypt. VOA
FILE – A counselor talks to a group of women to try to convince them that they should not have subject their daughters to female genital mutilation, in Minia, Egypt. VOA

Does Taher think ICE agents handing out pamphlets and talking to families headed to visit relatives abroad, who are maybe considering having the procedure done on their daughters, or planning to have it done on that summer vacation, is an effective method?

“A large part of prevention is educating that it IS illegal … many people don’t recognize that it IS,” said Taher. She wants to know more about what information is being shared and how the conversations with travellers are happening before passing judgment on the project.

Unintentional effect?

“Any effort about the health, legal consequences, support services, I think is really helpful and beneficial,” Taher said. On the other hand, she noted, “I feel conflict. We’re trying to show that FGC happens across the board, regardless of ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status. … I’m a little afraid, if we’re just targeting certain countries, that we’re unintentionally misrepresenting whom FGC happens to.”

Also Read: “The Restorers” : Kenyan Girls Use Technology to Combat Female Genital Mutilation

Dozens of U.S. states have passed laws, in addition to the federal legislation, criminalizing FGC. In the Michigan case, doctors who performed the procedure on girls were charged, as well as four mothers who agreed to the medically unnecessary surgeries. (VOA)