Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Releases Video Threatening America and Celebrating the Taliban’s Victory in Afghanistan
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released a 21-minute-long video through its Al-Malahem Media arm in which Khubayb al-Sudani (Ibrahim al-Qusi), a ranking official and public figure within the organization, issued an address to the American people and threatened future attacks in stated retaliation for US foreign policy actions in the Muslim world. The production is titled ‘A Message to the American People: You Have Yet to Understand’ and is generally consistent with Al-Qaeda’s traditional propaganda narratives about America. However, the video is quite explicit in comparison with some of the more measured statements released by official AQ media outlets as of late. Additionally, it is worth noting that AQAP is an Al-Qaeda branch with a peculiarly defined history of inciting violence abroad as well as involvement with external operations such as the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting in France and the December 2019 Pensacola Air Station attack in America.
The video is centred upon the notion that America, despite its withdrawal from Afghanistan, continues to pursue the very policies that motivated Al-Qaeda to conduct the 9/11 attacks in the first place. The accused transgressions include US support for Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians and the presence of American military forces in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries.
Khubayb al-Sudani congratulates the Taliban on their victory in Afghanistan and compares the conflict’s outcome to America’s defeat in Vietnam, also recounting Mullah Omar’s famous statement that “Allah has promised us victory, and Bush promised us defeat, and we will see which of the two promises is the true one.” He reveres the Taliban as “men whose hands, by the grace of Allah alone, buried a third empire in the soil of Afghanistan and restored the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to rule by the Shari’ah of Allah.”
Gloating about the “material and human losses” suffered by America, he suggests “perhaps the greatest loss … is its reputation and prestige as a superpower and the most powerful country in the world.”
AQAP is then keen to rebuke US President Joe Biden’s claims that America has achieved its goals in Afghanistan, has degraded Al-Qaeda’s ability to conduct attacks from the country, and has learned critical lessons after 20 years of war.
Khubayb al-Sudani quotes various Osama bin Laden speeches (also including audio clips) emphasizing that AQ will not stop fighting America until significant changes are made to US foreign policy. He exalts the 2019 Pensacola Air Station attacker, Muhammad al-Shamrani, as well as the 2009 Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hasan, and intimates about future violence, saying the “mujahideen today are not limited to borders, and that they can move from any part of the world to execute what they wish to deter your oppression.” He further promises “upcoming operations by the mujahideen” and says, “they do not necessarily have to be a carbon copy of the 11th September operations, as they have many alternatives, and perhaps they will be more powerful, painful, and heartbreaking than those.”