Al Qaeda’s top leader is calling for the abduction of Westerners in an effort to secure the release of the “blind sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman.
Ayman al-Zawahiri appears in the two-hour video posted on several jihadist websites, saying the kidnappings are necessary so as not to “spare any efforts” to free the cleric, who was an ally of Osama bin Laden and whose followers were convicted in the 1993 attempted bombing of the World Trade Center.
“We are seeking, by the help of God, to capture others and to incite Muslims to capture the citizens of the countries that are fighting Muslims in order to release our captives,” al-Zawahiri says in the video, according to a report by CNN.
The Barack Obama administration and the Justice Department recently refuted speculation that they were considering transferring the convicted cleric to Egypt to appease new President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who called for his release. The cleric “will serve the rest of his life in prison,” a joint DOJ-State Department letter to eight GOP lawmakers recently said.
“No consideration is being given to releasing him or transferring him to another country to complete his sentence,” the letter said.
Abdel Rahman and Zawahiri are both Egyptians who belonged to allied terrorist groups. The blind sheikh has been serving his life sentence in a federal prison in North Carolina.