Al-Qaeda urges fight against West and Russia
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called on supporters to band together to confront the threat from the West and Russia in Syria and Iraq, the latest recording suggesting greater unity between al-Qaeda and ISIS.
“The Americans, Russians, Iranians, Alawites, and Hezbollah are coordinating their war against us — are we not capable of stopping the fighting among ourselves so we can direct all our efforts against them?” Zawahiri said in an audio recording released on the Internet on Sunday.
It was not clear when the recording was made but references to Russian aggression suggest it was made after Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, launched air raids against opposition groups and ISIS in Syria on Sept. 30.
In a recording released in September, Zawahiri dismissed ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as illegitimate but said his followers would join them in fighting the Western-led coalition in Iraq and Syria if possible.
“My mujahideen brothers in all places and of all groups … we face aggression from America, Europe, and Russia … so it’s up to us to stand together as one from East Turkestan to Morocco,” Zawahiri said.
ISIS, the ultra-hardline group that controls large parts of Iraq and Syria, has called for a holy war against both Russia and the United States in response to air strikes on its fighters in Syria.
Any cooperation between al-Qaeda and ISIS would further complicate efforts to stabilize the Middle East, where militant groups have gained influence and escalated attacks since the Arab uprisings of 2011 toppled autocrats who had contained them.