Al-Qa’ida released a video on September 11 of a 30-minute speech with English subtitles called “How to Confront America” through its as-Sahab Media Foundation commemorating the 17th anniversary of the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. In the 14-point speech, al-Qa’ida’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called for Muslim brothers worldwide to wage jihad against the United States, specifically in the Islamic Maghreb and the Sahara, the Sahel, and West Africa.
Zawahiri called for unity among Muslims worldwide and continued the tradition of his deceased predecessor, Usama bin Ladin, by stating waging jihad on America will disrupt the country’s economy and cause great military losses, using the wars in Vietnam, Aden (Yemen), Iraq, and Somalia as examples. Zawahiri accused the United States of religious enmity against Islam and referred to America as “the number one enemy of Muslims.”
Although al-Qa’ida nor its affiliates have attempted to conduct an attack in the United States since 2009, the number of affiliates has grown since 9/11 with an estimated 25,000 fighters. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb has been active, while al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has suffered leadership losses through ongoing drone strikes.
Recently, Zawahiri called for unity among Muslims in a video speech entitled “The Battle of Awareness and Will: The Solid Structure.” The five-minute video produced by the as-Sahab Media Foundation was released on August 23. Zawahiri called for all Muslims to unify after decades of fragmentation, presumably referring to ISIS and its failure to maintain a caliphate.
Implications for New Jersey
While there are no known or credible threats to New Jersey, homegrown violent extremists remain the greatest threat. The upcoming holiday season is marked with numerous festivals, outdoor gatherings, and large-scale events that offer attractive targets for terrorist organizations and extremists.