Al Qaeda Chief Praises Paris Attacks, Declares War Has Just Begun

By Gilad Shiloach

Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri released a 40-minute audio statement late on Tuesday in which he praised the coordinated string of attacks that struck the French capital in mid-November. It is Al Qaeda's first official response to the violence that killed 130 people.

In the statement, published on an Al Qaeda forum and distributed on social media, al-Zawahiri called on Muslims to "move the war to homes of Europe and America" because "they are the leaders of the Crusader campaign."

He also threatened France and the West more broadly. "What you see now is only the beginning of the war," he said in the statement, Vocativ discovered. He vowed "to attack again with the help of God."

The statement comes weeks after the Islamic State, Al Qaeda's rival, claimed responsibility for the attacks that hit Paris on November 13. Since then, ISIS has released an ongoing barrage of propaganda videos, images and audio messages about the violence. Until late Tuesday, Al Qaeda had remained silent about the tragedy.

Al Zawahiri called the attacks "victory for all the Mujaheedin and all Muslims," and urged the Muslim community "to unite the effort against the enemies of Islam" and stop internal war and bloodshed. "The Crusaders are waging the biggest war against us in the history if Islam, from Indonesia to western Africa," he added.

Al Zawahiri has frequently released audio messages over the last several months. In early November, he urged 9/11-style attacks against the U.S. and celebrated a recent spate of stabbing attacks by Palestinians against Israelis.

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