- al Qaeda - counter-terrorism - terrorism - USA - Yemen
Top al Qaeda commander calls for attacks on US interests ‘everywhere’
In a purported audio message posted on the Web, Said al Shihri (pictured), al Qaeda's second-in-command in the Arabian Peninsula, congratulated Osama bin Laden for the Christmas Day bomb plot and called for attacks on US interests “everywhere”.
AFP - Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula number two Said al-Shihri called for attacks against US interests "everywhere," in an audio message released on the Internet on Monday.
"American and Crusader interests are everywhere and their agents are moving everywhere," Shihri said. "Attack them and eliminate as many enemies as you can."
The US-based SITE monitoring service said Shihri said Yemeni Muslims "must be united in this battle front and support the mujahedeen," and urged "Muslims elsewhere in the Arabian peninsula to do the same" and "embrace jihad."
Shihri praised the December 25 alleged attempt to blow up a US airliner by Nigerian Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, saying: "We salute the glorious invasion of Farouk," and "we repeat what our Sheikh Osama said, that America will not dream of security until we live in security in Palestine."
He was referring to an audio message last month by Osama bin Laden, in which the Al-Qaeda chief warned US President Barack Obama of further attacks and described Abdulmutallab as a "hero."
Shihri also said that Al-Qaeda aims to gain control of the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait which connects the Gulf of Aden to the Red Sea.
He emphasised "the importance of Bab al-Mandab, which, if we, God willing, controlled it, and brought it back to the house of Islam, would be a great victory and would give us great influence."
Then, he said, we could "close the door and tighten the noose on the Jews, because through (Bab al-Mandab), America brings support to them by the Red Sea."
He thanked the Somali Al-Shebab militants for offering to support Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and called for cooperation "in our next battle against the leader of the infidels, America, for you and we are on the shores of Bab al-Mandab."
In late December the Yemeni government began a stepped-up campaign against Al-Qaeda, to which the US has contributed intelligence information, as international pressure mounted following the failed airliner bombing.
Speaking on Sunday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that while a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat, the threat from Al-Qaeda is greater.
"I think that most of us believe the greater threats are the trans-national non-state networks," she said, referring to Al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Afghanistan, North Africa, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
She cautioned that the terror network is evolving to become "more creative, more flexible and more agile.
"They are, unfortunately, a very committed, clever, diabolical group of terrorists who are always looking for weaknesses and openings and we just have to stay alert," she said.