Al-Qaeda Chief Calls for Attacks Over Saudi Executions

Saudis Killed 43 al-Qaeda Members Recently

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has issued an audio recording this week calling for attacks against Saudi Arabia and its allies in retaliation for the recent execution of 43 members of al-Qaeda who had been held in prison, urging his supporters to overthrow the ruling dynasty.

Saudi Arabia carried out the executions on January 3, killing the al-Qaeda members and also a handful of Shi’ite protesters, including top Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. At the time, it was believed killing the Shi’ites was an effort by the Saudis to placate Islamist groups over the killing of the al-Qaeda members.

Ultimately that doesn’t appear to have worked as they’d hoped, with the killing of Nimr over the content of his sermons fueling an international backlash against the Saudis, and al-Qaeda still mad at them for executing its members.

Zawahiri even called out the Saudis on killing Nimr, calling it a “ploy” to try to win over Sunnis by spiting Iran, and saying it was done under the “umbrella of protecting and complying with the interests of America.”

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of