Al-Qaeda Issues New Threats Against the West

Jul 10, 2016

Over the past few days, several senior al-Qaeda leaders have issued new threats against the U.S. and France. In an audio message released on July 8, Hamza bin Laden, son of the group's founder Usama bin Laden, delivered a message directed at "the American people," accusing them of culpability for their country's "War against Islam." By repeatedly electing leaders who attack Muslims, bin Laden Junior argues, they themselves are primary partners in such "crimes." Bin Laden additionally warned the latter not to mistakenly presume that the killing of his father would go unanswered.

On the same day, Yahya Abu Hammam, a senior leader in Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, also released an audio message issuing threats against the West. Abu Hammam, who is considered to be closely linked to AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, focused on what he describes as "French occupation," or French influence in North African countries. In a message to the group's followers in Mali, he described their local struggle as an "inseparable part of the fight against the apostate global regime." He then threatened America and France, saying "We will not remain quiet about the occupation of our lands, about your forcing your practices on our schools and universities, stealing our resources and starving our children, until your armies withdraw from all our lands, from Palestine to Azawad."

There are several reasons that may have led AQ to increase its efforts to attack the West. Both the U.S. and France have escalated their campaigns against AQ in recent months. The U.S. has additionally stepped-up its drone strikes against the group in Yemen, killing the leader of AQ ally, the Taliban and is considering increasing coordination against AQ Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra (JN). France, for its part, recently pushed through a UNSC resolution that will expand the size of MINUSMA - the U.N. mission stationed in Mali - by an additional 2,500 soldiers. In addition, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks in Western countries (France, Belgium, and the U.S.) in recent months, sending shock waves around the world. This may have been the catalyst that pushed AQ to act in order to keep up with its jihadi competitor.