Ex-Guantánamo detainee praises Taliban’s victory, threatens America in new AQAP video

AQAP’s Ibrahim al Qosi claims that “upcoming operations” against America do not have be a “carbon copy” of 9/11.

Ibrahim al Qosi, a former Guantánamo detainee, praises the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan and threatens “upcoming” terrorist attacks against America in a new video.

The video, titled “A Message to the American People: You Have Yet to Understand the Lesson,” is more than 20 minutes long. It was produced by Al Malahem Media, the media arm of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al Qosi became a senior figure in AQAP after being transferred from Guantanamo to his native Sudan and then making his way to Yemen. He served Osama bin Laden in a variety of roles prior to 9/11 and escaped from the Tora Bora Mountains in late 2001 before being captured.

The first half of AQAP’s video includes archival footage of the 9/11 hijackings, as well as a re-enactment. These scenes are spliced together with images from the jihadists’ victory in Afghanistan, including footage of the Taliban’s special forces.

The AQAP video contains this comparison of the U.S. withdrawals from Saigon and Kabul, as well as other similar images.

Photos comparing America’s withdrawal from Kabul to the U.S. exit from Saigon are shown on screen. Clips of President Bush announcing the defeat of the Taliban’s regime in late 2001 are also contrasted with images from the jihadists’ triumph 20 years later, including a photo of the last American soldier leaving the Afghan capital.

Al Qosi congratulates the Taliban and its “Emir of the Faithful”

Al Qosi, who is also known as Sheikh Khubayb al Sudani, opens with a discussion of the fall of Afghanistan. Images of the 9/11 hijackings can be seen over his shoulder throughout his entire talk.

“To begin, I would like to congratulate and salute the Muslims in general, then the people of Afghanistan and the Taliban movement and on top of them, [the] Emir of the Faithful Haibatullah Akhundzada and his distinguished commanders and soldiers, in particular, for this magnificent victory and evident conquest that shocked the world and all politicians and observers,” al Qosi says.

Al Qosi congratulates the Taliban and the “Emir of the Believers (or Faithful” Haibatullah Akhundzada.

Al Qosi claims the victory is owed to Allah and he lauds the “faith” of the Taliban’s jihadists, saying they “did not give the world an ounce of consideration over their religion.”

“They are men whose hands by the grace of Allah alone, buried a third empire in the soil of Afghanistan, and restored the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to rule by the Shari’ah of Allah, even if America and its allies hate it,” al Qosi says.

He then repeats the words of Mullah Omar, the first “Emir of the Faithful” for the Taliban.

“Allah has promised us victory, and Bush promised us defeat, and we will see which of the two promises is the true one,” al Qosi remembers Omar vowing in late 2001. The Taliban founder’s prophecy has now been “fulfilled” at the “hands” of the Taliban’s men, al Qosi claims.

Al Qosi cites Mullah Omar’s defiant words from late 2001.

“So congratulations to you, O people of Afghanistan, for this great victory,” al Qosi says. “You have every right to be proud of having sons like the genuine men of the Islamic Taliban movement.”

Al Qosi claims America hasn’t learned its lesson

Al Qosi spends much of his time discussing President Joe Biden’s speeches on August 16 and August 31, specifically the statistics offered by the White House concerning the high cost of the Afghan war in terms of both lives lost and dollars spent.

“Perhaps the greatest loss America suffered besides its material and human losses, is its reputation and prestige as a superpower and the most powerful country in the world,” al Qosi remarks.

Al Qosi argues it “is strange that “after all that it has suffered, the U.S. President then claims that they have succeeded and achieved the goals for which they launched this war, which is the killing of Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may Allah have mercy on him, and that Afghanistan, based on the commitments of the Taliban movement, will not be a base from which jihadi groups threaten the security of America and its allies.”

The AQAP man asks: “Was it really worth America paying these heavy costs to achieve these two goals?! Could America not have achieved these by any other way, to avoid such significant losses?!”

Al Qosi cites a passage from President Biden’s August 16 speech. The president said: “The events we’re seeing now are sadly proof that no amount of military force would ever deliver a stable, united, and secure Afghanistan — as known in history as the ‘graveyard of empires.’”

Al Qosi argues that if all America learned was that its “entry into Afghanistan, the graveyards of empires, was a strategic mistake that led to their defeat — and it is a shameful defeat — then this means that they did not learn, nor understand the lesson in all its aspects.” He then argues that American policy is the real cause of attacks such as 9/11 – a claim long made by both al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Bin Laden’s speeches are used to justify new attacks on America

Al Qosi introduces an archival clip of a speech delivered by Osama bin Laden in Sept. 2009. Addressing the American people, bin Laden claimed that their government’s support for Israel and the “occupation” of Palestine were the causes of 9/11.  

In the new video, AQAP includes archival audio clips from Osama bin Laden’s Sept. 2009 speech.

“First, I say, we have made clear and stated many times, over two and a half decades ago, that the reason for our disagreement with you is your support for your Israeli allies occupying our land of Palestine,” bin Laden said at the time.

“Your position on this, along with some other grievances, is what prompted us to implement the events of September 11th,” bin Laden said. “If you knew the extent of our suffering from the oppression of the Jews with the support of the administration, you would have known that both of our nations are victims of the policies of the White House, which is, in fact, held hostage in the hands of pressure groups, especially major corporations and the Israeli lobby.”

Bin Laden was an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist and al Qaeda has had little to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But al Qaeda continues to push the conspiratorial idea that Jews control American policy. In that same Sept. 2009 speech, bin Laden called upon Americans to “free” themselves “from the fear and ideological terrorism practiced against you by the neo-conservatives and the Israeli lobby.”

Al Qosi claims America is “still at risk”

Al Qosi builds on Osama bin Laden’s words to warn that al Qaeda still intends to target America.

“O Americans, your security is still at risk as long as you do not comprehend the lesson in all its aspects, and as long as you do not act to remove the reasons for which the September 11th events took place, which Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may Allah have mercy on him, explained to you in his speeches and messages,” al Qosi says.

Al Qosi argues that Americans will not “enjoy peace and security, as former U.S. President Bush had claimed,” even if the “last man in al Qaeda” is eliminated. He adds: “O Americans, your security is still at risk as long as you fight Islam and Muslims under different names, including ‘counterterrorism.’”

Al Qosi claims the “mujahideen” won’t be stopped by borders.

The former Guantanamo detainee warns Americans “that the mujahideen today are not limited to borders, and that they can move from any part of the world to execute what they wish to deter your oppression.”

He claims that there are many “enterprising mujahid,” citing the examples of Muhammad al-Shamrani, who conspired with AQAP while planning the Dec. 2019 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, and Nidal Hasan, who was inspired by Anwar al Awlaki’s teachings before carrying out the Nov. 2009 massacre at Fort Hood. Al Qosi boasts that both jihadists “hit you in your own backyard, even from within your bases.”

Al Qosi implies that al Qaeda’s network has different types of terrorist attacks in mind.

“Upcoming operations by the mujahideen do not necessarily have to be a carbon copy of the September 11th operations, as they have many alternatives, and perhaps they will be more powerful, painful, and heart-breaking than those,” al Qosi says.

Al Qosi repeats bin Laden’s warning that America cannot “dream of security” until “we live it as a reality in Palestine, and before all the infidel armies leave the land of Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.”

Al Qosi also cites a Jan. 2006 message from bin Laden, in which the al Qaeda founder said: “As for the delay in similar operations in America [such as 9/11], it is not due to the inability to penetrate your security measures, but it is because the operations are under preparation, and you will see them in your home as soon as they are finished.” However, al Qaeda failed to conduct another major attack on American soil during bin Laden’s lifetime.

Before offering a closing prayer to Allah, al Qosi also quotes bin Laden as saying: “The days and nights will not pass until we take revenge like we did on September 11th, Allah permitting.”  

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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