One of the most wanted men on the planet, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, who heads the feared Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorist organization, released a statement assuring his imprisoned comrades that they would soon be released.
“The imprisonment will not last and the chains will be broken,” wrote al-Wuhayshi, according to a report by Al Jazeera, posted on Sunday, August 12. “Your brothers are about to bring down the walls and thrones of evil… and victory is within reach,” al-Wuhayshi promised.
And if anyone could make a threat like that sound credible, it is al-Wuhayshi.
In 2006, the former secretary to Osama bin Laden escaped from a maximum security prison by digging his way out. Al-Wuhayshi also united the Yemini and the Saudi branches of al Qaeda. This is one of the most ruthless, creative, focused terrorist leaders currently alive – and none of his colleagues are exactly warm and cuddly.
At least in part, it was Al-Wuhayshi’s call to bin Laden’s successor, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, that triggered the recent closures of U.S. embassies and consulates across much of the Middle East and Africa. In late July, Al-Wuhayshi pledged loyalty to al-Zawahiri.
In the July message, al-Wuhayshi condemned the recent waves of drone strikes launched by the U.S. “Our war with this Zio-Crusader campaign is ongoing, for they are the ones who choose war, and their people clapped for them. We are people of war; we were born from its womb and we grew up in its midst. It is as if we were only created to fight them and bother them.”
The AQAP leader also pledged to ensure that Sharia law become the law of the land everywhere.
“Our project is to institute the Shariah of Allah on Earth and reject the man-made laws and constitutions,” Wuhayshi said. “Nothing will rule the country other than the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of Allah’s Messenger, Allah’s peace and prayer be upon him, [especially] not with words written in a constitution to deceive people: ‘Islamic Shariah is the source of legislation.’”
Although not part of the first wave of closures, the U.S. embassy in Yemen was shut down on Tuesday, August 6. Unlike the U.S. outposts elsewhere in the Muslim world that were re-opened on Sunday, August 12, there is currently not even a tentative date for the re-opening of the U.S. embassy in Yemen.
There have been nearly a dozen drone strikes in Yemen conducted by the U.S since late July, but terrorism continues unabated. Five Yemeni soldiers were killed by al-Qaeda terrorists early Sunday morning.
Another trigger for the unprecedented number of U.S. embassy closures was what seemed to have become a pattern of prison breakouts in which large numbers of al-Qaeda prisoners have escaped. There were two prisons in Iraq from which prisoners escaped, and just a few days later, more than 1,000 prisoners escaped from a Benghazi prison in Libya. And more than 200 prisoners were released by outside agitators in Pakistan.
Naturally the question arises whether the brazen message to imprisoned al-Qaeda prisoners that they would soon be released was also intended to include al-Qaeda prisoners in the U.S. controlled prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and whether officials were concerned about this possibility.
That question may have been addressed in a series of court briefings regarding certain frisk procedures that included “genital searches” for prisoners at the Gitmo facility, and whether descriptions of those procedures could be withheld from the public.
According to a declaration signed in June by Colonel John Bogdan, the prison warden at Guantanamo, certain details about “operational-security and force-protection procedures,” if made public, “would better enable our enemies to attack the detention facilities at Guantanamo or undermine security at the facility.”
Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaeda’s leader, identified the [Joint Task Force-Guantanamo] detention facilities as a target during a 22-minute video posted July 31, 2013, stating: ‘The terror network will spare no effort to free prisoners held at the US military-run detention centre in Cuba,” according to Al Jazeera.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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