On anniversary of 9/11, al-Qaida leader pushes for attacks on the U.S., slams ex-jihadis

On the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the leader of al-Qaida called on Muslims to carry out more attacks on targets in America, Europe, Israel and Russia, CBS News reports. 

In a 33-minute video produced by al-Qaida's media arm, as-Sahab, Ayman al-Zawahiri — the 68-year-old Egyptian national who took over the Islamic militant organization in 2011 following the death of Osama bin Laden — encouraged Muslims to seek out and hit U.S. bases. 

"If you want jihad to be focused solely on military targets, the American military has presence all over the world, from the East to the West," he says in the footage. "Your countries are littered with American bases, with all the infidels therein and the corruption they spread."

The video was first discovered on Wednesday by SITE Intelligence Group, a company that tracks the online activity of white supremacist and jihadist groups.

In the video, Al-Zawahiri also references President Trump's assertion that the Golan Heights, a region of strategic military importance, is part of Israel and calls on Palestinians to respond by attacking Israelis with a suicide vest. At one point, the al-Qaida leader criticizes former jihadis who, during their time in prison, changed their views on the 9/11 attacks, calling them "backtrackers" from jihad. 

Al-Zawahiri, who is believed to be hiding somewhere along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, has previously called for jihad. In May 2018, he urged Muslims to carry out attacks against the United States after the Trump administration moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem — a decision that drew the anger of Palestinians. 

The immediate global threat from al-Qaida, which has competed with other militant organizations like the Islamic State, is still unclear, according to CBS News, which cites a United Nations report. Though its roots date back to 1989, al-Qaida came to prominence in September 2001, when it organized a series of terror attacks on the U.S. and caused the deaths of approximately 3,000 people. 

On Wednesday, Trump commemorated the attacks by issuing stern words against those considering another attack against the U.S.

"If for any reason they come back to our country, we will go wherever they are and use power the likes of which the United States has never used before, and I'm not even talking about nuclear power," he said at the Pentagon. "They will never have seen anything like what will happen to them."