Brother of al Qaeda’s emir justifies 9/11

MEMRI has published excerpts of an Al Jazeera interview with Mohammed al Zawahiri, the brother of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri. The interview first aired on Aug. 1, the same day that CNN published its story about Mohammed Zawahiri. I previously wrote about Mohamed al Zawahiri’s CNN interview here.

The first line of MEMRI’s translation reads: “We in Al-Qaeda are bound by the laws of the shari’a, and we reject and condemn any killing that is prohibited by the shari’a.”

Mohamed al Zawahiri goes on to justify the 9/11 attacks and terrorism against the US in general, reciting conspiracy theories in the process. When answering questions about al Qaeda’s tactics, he starts by using the word “we.”

Why is this noteworthy? According to some accounts, as I previously noted, Mohamed al Zawahiri supposedly had a falling out with his brother. This is how I summarized this version of Mohamed al Zawahiri’s life previously:

In The Looming Tower, Lawrence Wright writes that Mohamed al Zawahiri broke with his brother after the elder Zawahiri decided to join Osama bin Laden’s International Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders in 1998. Ayman supposedly berated his brother for mismanaging the EIJ’s finances and the two were not always peas in the same pod.

I’ve had my doubts about this version. And I think that Mohamed al Zawahiri’s interview with Al Jazeera is further evidence that Mohamed al Zawahiri supports al Qaeda’s mission and his brother’s. In August, CNN also described him as “unrepentant about his beliefs.”

In another interview published by CNN today, Ayman’s brother offers to broker a “peace” deal between al Qaeda and the West. “I don’t represent a certain group,” Mohamed al Zawahiri said. “My role is a mediator between the West and them.”

It is noteworthy that in his Al Jazeera interview he referred to al Qaeda as “we,” and now calls the group “them.”

Mohamed al Zawahiri was acquitted of longstanding terrorism charges by an Egyptian military court in March. He is just one of many al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists set free since the Mubarak regime fell.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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1 Comment

  • Stephanie says:

    My first reaction to the CNN interview after watching the video is that there are two possibilities … or perhaps a combination of the two. One of them is more optimistic, the other is more cynical.
    1. The less optimistic reaction is that this truce talk is just a trick, supported by what the reporter mentioned about the 7/7 attacks occuring after UBL offered a truce (which of course was rejected, though).
    2. The more optimistic possibility is that (though still too proud to fully admit it) these people are slowly but surely starting to realize that they are wrong, or at least are not liking the consequences of what their violent actions have done to them, their lives, their families, and the Middle East. Now here is a little detail that is being under-reported and seems quite bizarre; I wonder if anyone can think of an explanation for this: Also, his brother-in-law told the British press (taking it, of course, with a grain of salt because he was trying to get his sister out of jail at the time and there is really no way to know if he was telling the truth) that he (UBL) had told his children and grandchildren to not follow his path but rather to go to the West to get a good education. With that in mind, it could be that the destructive consequences of their lifestyles is slowly sinking in.


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