Ayman al-Zawahri, widely considered to be Al-Qaida’s second in command, said in a message released today that the group will seek revenge for the 86-year jail sentence for a Pakistani woman who was convicted of attacking Americans.
The terrorist leader vowed not only to avenge the Muslim woman but also stated it as another reason for why he believes Pakistanis should overthrow their own government and join the jihad against the United States.
The woman, Aafia Siddiqui, was convicted in February of two counts of attempted murder and sentenced in September. She was charged after grabbing an assault rifle while being interrogated by Americans in an Afghan police station.
She has become a celebrated martyr in Pakistan, and subject of much debate, for a population affected by a wave of anti-Americanism. Pakistanis across the political range suspect America has made up the charges against her and some believe the woman might have been held against her will in a secret prison for the five years prior that she was missing.
These suspicions are especially prevalent due to the mysterious beginnings of the saga, when the 38-year-old woman, who was previously placed on a al-Qaida-linked suspect list, appeared in Afghanistan two years ago carrying notes that spoke about a mass casualty attack on New York City landmarks and package containing sodium cyanide.
While apparently in Afghan custody, and about to be interrogated by U.S. military personnel, she opened fire on them with an assault rifle.
Earlier in life, Aafia Siddiqui studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University before returning to Pakistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. She was a neuroscience specialist who, along with her children, disappeared from the southern city of Karachi in 2003.
In Ayman al-Zawahri recent threat against the United States, he said “O soldiers of Islam … whoever wants to free Aafia and avenge the assault on Muslim women, join the mujahedeen,” said al-Zawahri in the four-and-a-half minute message released in Arabic, Pashto, Persian and Urdu — a sign al-Qaida is looking to broaden its reach across the Muslim world.
“We will fight you until the day of judgment, or until you stop your crimes. Imprison whoever you want, kill whoever you want, raid whatever you want … The Muslim nation is after you.”
Aafia Siddiqui photo source: Wikipedia