New AQAP leader pledges allegiance to Al-Zawahiri, vows revenge against America
The new leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Khaled Batarfi, on Friday made his first video appearance since succeeding Abu Hurairah Qassem Al-Raimi, who was killed in a US raid in early February in the central Yemeni governorate of Al-Baydha.
“To our sheikh and our emir, Abu Mohammed Ayman Al-Zawahiri, I pledge my allegiance to you, will obey you at all times, and will not dispute your orders,” said Batarfi in a video released by Al-Mallaham, the organization's media arm.
“And I pledge you to jihad for the sake of God, to establish the law of God on the earth, and this allegiance from me and all my brothers in Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” Batarfi said in a recording which was listened to by Almasdar Online.
He vowed to target the US and attacked democracy, saying it was a plot by the West to subdue Muslims. He referred to the Afghans' achievements and their victories against America and its allies until the US “begged” to leave Afghanistan.
“The killing of our leaders by the Americans and their associates will not dissuade the organization from its objectives and operations,” he said.
Batarfi spoke of a new era of the organization to triumph and avenge the blood of their martyrs and cleanse their ranks of traitors while also praying for the failure of America, Israel, Russia, Iran, and the Arab and Muslim rulers who aid them.
In late February, Al-Qaeda announced the death of Qassim Al-Raimi and the nomination of Khaled Batarfi as his successor. The group embarked on operation "cleansing traitors and spies," to identify cells working for the “crusaders”, referring to the United States, after several theories circulated about the circumstances of Al-Raimi’s death.
The group released a video in late February which claimed to show confessions of spies within their ranks, including Saudi members.
US President Donald Trump announced in early February the killing of the leader of AQAP in a counter-terrorism operation in Yemen. The president stressed that Al-Raimi’s death will weaken the extremist group globally, eliminate them and end its threats to America’s national security.