Al Malahim, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s media wing, released a new video over the weekend titled “The First Rain,” which documents the welcomed return of operatives freed during the terrorist organization’s attack on the central prison in Sana’a in February. The video includes statements from several of the escaped prisoners as well as from senior AQAP members such as al Qaeda’s general manager, Nasir al Wuhayshi, and Ibrahim al Rubaish, a leading AQAP ideologue and theologian.
In the video, the welcoming party, held in an undisclosed location in Yemen, is shown with a large crowd of al Qaeda militants and supporters numbering at least 100 in attendance. Masked armed fighters flank the reception holding al Qaeda’s black flags and singing songs in honor of the returning AQAP members.
The video begins with the testimony of AQAP member Munir al Boni, one of the February fugitives, who says that as soon as he was transferred into the central prison in Sana’a he began planning an escape with the other imprisoned militants, especially Saleh al Shawish, Mansour al Dalil, and Mobarak al Shabwani. The fighters decided on the weapons that would be needed for the attack from inside the prison, which included 10 hand grenades.
Next, Saleh al Shawish, an admitted al Qaeda bomb maker, describes the assault on the prison and says that the major explosion occurred precisely at the gate leading to their cells, facilitating their escape. He emphasizes the ease of the operation, saying, “The way out was simple, as soon as we left, we turned right and the guys were waiting for us at the end of the street.”
Nasir al Wuhayshi, the emir of AQAP who was appointed al Qaeda’s general manager in August 2013, gives an impassioned speech to the crowd of al Qaeda members and escapees.
“The journey of jihad continues and the trials on this path are always present,” he says. Then he refocuses the attention of the crowd beyond the closer and lesser enemy, the Yemeni authorities, to the more important enemy beyond.
“We must remember, oh brothers, that we are fighting the greater enemy – the leaders of disbelief. We must bring down their leaders. We must eliminate the cross … the bearer of the cross is America!”, he states.
In a poetic speech after Wuhayshi’s, AQAP’s spiritual leader, Ibrahim al Rubaish, also reminds the crowd of the unfinished jihad despite the joy of recent successes. “On this day, happiness is mixed with sadness,” he says, “we are happy for our brothers and we are sad for the rest of our brothers.” He cites the imprisonment of al Qaeda “brothers” in Guantanamo, and in the Saudi prisons of Ha’ir and Dahaban, as well as in Palestine.
Mohammad al Sa’adi, another of the February fugitives, thanks Allah for his release and rejoices over his “complete freedom.” In the same breath, he asks that Allah allow them to “slaughter the tyrants.” Al Sa’adi also sends a message to “the brothers in the land of the two holy mosques,” in reference to al Qaeda members in Saudi Arabia: “Be patient, we will not forget you.” Another freed AQAP member, Omar al Marwani, pledges that the group will not forget those members still remaining in Yemeni prisons.
The 15-minute video includes a famous jihadi song playing in the background throughout, titled “As long as the prisons endure.” The lyrics to this song assert that “[a]s long as the prisons endure, as long as they plot against us, we have made a promise, we will annihilate all the strongholds.” The song continues, “We swear, oh Jerusalem we will not kneel nor be humiliated, we proceed in our jihad and we will be firm in our promise! Know, oh Jews, that we are the lions of demise, the love of jihad runs in our soul and in our eyes.”