NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Al Qaeda's leader has emerged from the shadows after a nearly two-year absence to call for greater unity among jihadists and to encourage "lone wolf" attacks in the American heartland, Reuters has reported.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian doctor who helped found Islamic Jihad and later al Qaeda with Osama bin Laden, urged a cease-fire among the "mujahideen" and called "on all Muslims who can harm the countries of the crusader coalition not to hestitate."
"We must now focus on moving the war to the heart of the homes and cities of the crusader West and specifically America," Zawahiri said, according to the translation provided by Reuters.
The audio statement was posted online Sunday, though it was likely made more than two months before since it mentioned a still-living Mullah Mohamed Omar, the one-eyed leader of the Taliban who reportedly died in July.
The dual message in the video illustrates the waning power and desperation of al Qaeda for a big win after the successes racked up by the Islamic State. Al Qaeda in Syria (also known as al Nusra) has also been at war with the Islamic State since Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi launched the movement from Iraq.
Zawahiri had previously attempted to corral ISIS, insisting that it was "too violent" and should not be killing fellow Sunnis who did not wish to join it.
But the two organizations have competing visions for the world – in al Qaeda's, the global caliphate is established through cooperation among Islamists. In the view of ISIS, the global caliphate has already been declared by force and all those who stand in the way of it will be killed, even fellow Muslims.
In the current audio recording, Zawahiri restated his position that al Qaeda and ISIS could work together if the "good people" of the two terror groups settled their dispute, but only if ISIS stops forcing the caliphate on fellow Muslims.
Zawahiri also suggested Muslim youth in North America should follow the lead of the Tsarnaev and Kouachi brothers in planning attacks.
Tamerlan and Dzhohkar Tsarnaev were responsible for the placing pressure cooker bombs at the Boston Marathon in 2013. Those bombings killed three people and injured dozens more. The Kouachi brothers carried out the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris before they were killed by police.
"Therefore, if we strike the head, then the wings and the body will fall, and if the war reaches the home of the great criminals, then they would stop the war and revise their policies, Allah permitting," Zawahiri said, according to Breitbart.
Zawahiri is schooled in the Wahabbi strain of Islam. Founded in the 18th century by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahabbi, the group advocates a revival of classical seventh-century Islam. ISIS claims allegiance to the same teaching, but has been much more brutal in implementing the vision of the group's founder.
Still, Zawahiri said al Qaeda and ISIS could join together to destroy the Alawites and Shiites (other sects of Islam), the Christians and "the secularists" – all enemies of both groups.