Al-Qaeda Urges Attacks Against the US, Targets America’s Political Divisions in New Video
Al-Qaeda (AQ) released a new video portraying America as a nation in terminal decline, riven by violent unrest, factional conflict in the streets, natural disasters, a raging pandemic, flaring racial tensions, “strikes by the Mujahideen,” severe inequality, and deep structural economic woes. Released through the organization’s chief propaganda organ As-Sahab, “America Burns” is primarily focused on magnifying and exploiting US domestic political dysfunction and polarization. The production is a highly aggressive social and cultural critique, vacillating between the most potent and energized narratives purveyed by both ‘sides’ of America’s political dichotomy.
Al-Qaeda, having gotten an intimate read on its superpower adversary a quarter-century on from Osama bin Laden’s formal declaration of war in 1996, is well attuned to the US domestic political landscape and is adept in identifying the most disruptive and consequential rhetoric purveyed by America’s leading political factions.
“America Burns” is the latest in a recent surge of Western-targeted al-Qaeda propaganda. Just last week, As-Sahab released a video criticizing and threatening France for blasphemy and in late June, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released its first issue of Inspire magazine since March of 2017, which was primarily focused on attacking the US.
In the new video, Al-Qaeda advocates for “strikes by the Mujahideen,” which constitutes one of “the five cornerstones of America’s coffin” alongside the coronavirus, a declining economy, racism, and political divisions. They celebrate the 2000 USS Cole bombing, the 9/11 raids, the 2019 Naval Air Station Pensacola shooting, and the 2020 Camp Simba attack on American forces in Kenya.
Structurally, AQ describes the US as a “decaying polity,” a nation on the “verge of collapse,” a “sinking ship,” and a society wholly afflicted with “sharp divisions” and “deep discord.” In their view, America is suffering from imperial overstretch abroad while operating on a rotting foundation at home with a “usury-based economy” that is like an “inflated balloon waiting to implode.” They claim that the “real beneficiaries” of America’s economic and financial system are the “corporate robber barons” on “Wallstreet and … in Communist China,” while the average American is “hungrier and poorer than ever,” and this, they believe, is a recipe for extreme volatility and eventual destruction.
Al-Qaeda’s video presents a simplified binary of Democrats versus Republicans, yet their use of framing is very nuanced.
They accuse “old man Biden” and the Democrats of cranking up the national temperature and fuelling polarization through impeachment proceedings and incessant accusations of Trump-Russia collusion. AQ asserts that the “FBI colluded” with the Democrats as did “the liberal press that controls the American media industry.” They add, “this is the same media which was unabashed in its open support of the Democrats” whose “collusive coverage was among the decisive factors of Biden’s victory and Trump’s defeat in the elections.”
AQ then switches gears and moves onto the Capitol riot which receives a great deal of focus throughout the video. They describe the “raiders of Congress” as “evangelist, terrorist, extremist followers of the Trump cult … the same people that Biden labels Homegrown Terrorists.”
Al-Qaeda describes how America’s vast military and security apparatus that has long been concentrated on jihadism is now being repurposed and directed at the American people. AQ simultaneously hypes up the threat of extremist elements in America, while also describing an increasingly draconian American government cracking down on its citizens and their rights.
The narrator revels in how “things reached a point where Schumer demanded the imposition of travel bans to Washington not on those arriving from Yemen or North Korea, but from Texas or Florida” and how “Pelosi ordered the creation of a commission to investigate the events of the 6th of January like the 9-11 commission.”
The logical conclusion of this, they say, will be the creation of a “new Guantanamo for Trump’s terrorists and the invention of new spying techniques targeting Americans like the Wind Stellar program.” The new domestic war on terrorism, AQ explains, could go even further with the “use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT) such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation to force Trump’s terrorists to disclose their plans for the next attack on the congress and perhaps the White House.”
It is then suggested that President Biden may use “his weapon of choice, drones, to assassinate “High-Value Targets” hiding in the deserts of Texas or the beaches of Florida,” noting how these “HVTs would be none other than the supporters of Trump who “terrorized” the members of congress and forced them to hide like scared rats.”
The scenes of January 6th “surely pleased Trump,” AQ says, alleging that he viewed it as “revenge” for “the day when he was forced to hide in the White House out of fear of an attack by the supporters of Pelosi, who had no qualms gloating over Trump’s misfortunes.”
Following the “War on Terror in Washington,” the “liberal media” launched a full-court press against “the Daesh of Washington and their leader and chief instigator, the former American President Trump who behaved as if he was a member of Daesh.”
Al-Qaeda relishes how the events of January 6th “exposed the fragility of the democratic system,” purporting that the “strongest fortress of democracy in the world was on the verge of falling as a result of an attack by a few thousand demonstrators.”
The narrator exclaims:
It was Allah’s wisdom that the fourth plane whose downing was ordered by Dick Cheney on the 11th of September did not reach its target, and Americans were left to destroy the edifice of their democracy with their own hands - following in the footsteps thereby of their predecessors from Bani Nudhair. This hurts them more and brings greater joy to the believers.
America is thus described as a nation in a state of “decay” that has descended into a “democracy of fear.” “The drumbeats of an impending civil war can be clearly heard,” the narrator says, “it was a civil war that brought the mother of all evils into existence, and it shall be a civil war that marks its ultimate doom.”
AQ points to the militarization of Washington and record weapons sales as evidence of this. They paint a scene where America’s politicians are afraid of their own people and require an increasing level of protection amid a rapidly deteriorating security environment.
Speaking to the absurdity of the situation, they describe how Washington became a “military cantonment full of barricades and closed avenues manned by twenty-five thousand soldiers from the national guards” deployed to “protect the new President from the anarchy unleashed by the former President and his supporters.”
Al-Qaeda, instigating from every angle, says that the “Republican camp too started complaining of racism and cultural marginalization targeting the whites,” adding, “soon, the Republicans will raise the slogan: White Lives Matter!”
AQ is keenly aware of the ‘Culture War’ issues in contemporary America, noting how “Trump invited his supporters to search for new platforms for communication to bypass the censorship imposed on them by the big guns of the social media world who are known for Democratic leanings.”
One of the more striking parts of the video is the recommendation that Trump’s supporters should look to AQAP’s Inspire magazine for lessons on how to deal with censorship.
The video also emphasizes “racism and the spread of the ideology of white supremacy” in America, the killing of George Floyd, and the subsequent protests and riots that swept through the country last summer. It even includes video of the August 2017 Charlottesville rally and the lethal vehicle ramming which took place.
Last summer, Al-Qaeda explains,
Black America rose up in rebellion over the killing of George Floyd. Much like the uprising of the Egyptians on the killing of Khalid Saeed, the streets of America overflowed with everyone unsatisfied with the situation: black and white, racist extremists, leftist radicals, the hungry, the needy. Arsons became commonplace, stores were robbed, highways shut down, a curfew was announced, and the army came out on the streets … A banished President Trump came out of hiding to threaten his own people with police dogs and lethal weapons reminding one of the public appearance of Gadhafi in which he threatened his people and his famous speech “Zanqah … Zanqah!”
The video concludes with the narrator and Ayman al-Zawahiri (who references Malcolm X) making an appeal to black Americans and the rest of the world’s oppressed.
In closing, the narrator remarks:
This ladies and gentlemen is America on the verge of collapse. As for the Mujahideen, this is their message for the oppressed of the world, including the oppressed in America: jump from the sinking ship of the Pharaoh of this age, come to the ship of Islam that shall rescue you …
The Mujahideen promise their nation to continue their journey on the path of sacrifice so as to end the injustice of America that targets Islam, Muslims, and the oppressed masses across the world. The Mujahideen have put their trust in their lord and their Islamic nation. They raise their hands in supplication to their Lord and pray to him that he demonstrated the wonders of his power and vengeance by punishing America and its allies.