Ayman al-Zawahri, Egyptian leader of al Qaeda, appeared in a video marking the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
As reported by the AP, the leader stated that “Jerusalem will never be Judaized,” praised recent al Qaeda attacks against Russian troops in Syria, and mentioned the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan—all of which shocked many who presumed he was dead. Zawahiri’s recorded speech was 61 minutes and 31 seconds long.
Rumors began spreading of Zawahiri’s death from an unspecified illness in late 2020. Until Saturday, there was no proof indicating otherwise. The SITE Intelligence Group—a group that monitors jihadist sites—noted that Zawahiri did not mention the Taliban’s recent seizure of Kabul. The U.S. withdrawal agreement was signed in February 2020, and the recent al Qaeda attack the leader praised was on Jan. 1, 2021, so there is still a possibility that the rumors of his death remain true.
“He could still be dead, though if so, it would have been at some point in or after Jan 2021,” tweeted Rita Katz, SITE’s director.
In an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday, host Margaret Brennan asked former acting and deputy CIA director Michael Morell if the UN’s belief that Zawahiri was living in Afghanistan was accurate. “I think so,” said Morell. “Which means that the Taliban is harboring Zawahiri today.”