Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has vowed in a video released Wednesday to break out Muslim prisoners from U.S. penitentiaries and the heavily fortified compound for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The blustery threat to retaliate for U.S. “crimes” against al-Qaida warriors was probably inspired by recent attacks on prisons in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan that freed more than 2,000 detainees, many of them allied with the global terrorism network that has been headed by al-Zawahiri since the 2011 assassination of its founder, Osama bin Laden.
But security at the crude prisons breached in the Middle East by al-Qaida-aligned suicide bombers over the past week pales in comparison with the U.S. detention sites’ concentric rings of armed guards, concrete walls and electrified, concertina wire-topped fences.
“America’s tyranny, inflicted on the Muslims unjustly imprisoned for 13 years without charge, is a crime that has exposed the lie about freedom, human rights, democracy and people’s rights that America claims,” al-Zawahiri said in the video, according to a translation by the Agence France-Presse news agency and carried by the France 24 network.
“We pledge God that we will spare no efforts to set them free, along with all our prisoners, on top of them Omar Abdel Rahman, Aafia Siddiqui, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and every oppressed Muslim everywhere,” al-Zawahiri said in the video, according to Associated Press reporting from Baghdad.
The news agency said its authenticity couldn’t be confirmed, but that the video was posted on an Islamist website regularly used to disseminate al-Qaida messages.
Al-Zawahiri condemned the U.S. military’s force-feeding of hunger-striking detainees at Guantanamo, where the nearly five-month protest against indefinite detention has eased during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Earlier this month, 106 of the 168 prisoners were refusing food at the compound on a remote stretch of the U.S. base in southern Cuba.