Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called on Maghreb Muslims to fight French soldiers in the Sahel, in a video message made public on Tuesday, according to the US Center for Surveillance of Jihadist Sites SITE.
In this seven-minute video, which can not be dated, Osama bin Laden’s successor makes no reference to the recent attacks in Ouagadougou, claimed by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), a jihadist movement based in Mali and affiliated with Al Qaeda.
On Friday, a coordinated double attack targeted the French embassy and the Burkinabe army general staff in the capital of Burkina, killing seven people and injuring more than 80 people. Nine jihadists were shot dead.
“Those who fought, killed and chased your fathers are back to kill your Muslim brothers […] and remind you that you remain under their occupation and oppression,” said Ayman al-Zawahiri, referring to the time of colonization.
He also stressed the failure of the revolutions of the Arab Spring, saying that “the old corruption has returned, but more fierce […] than before”.
Ayman al-Zawahiri regularly threatens France in his messages: last September, he had already called on the Muslims of the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa to give “a lesson to the French” who “killed your ancestors, occupied your lands and tortured your ancestors”.
Approximately 4,000 French soldiers are deployed in the Sahel as part of Operation Barkhane, which fights jihadist groups in the region and supports the forces of the G5-Sahel countries (Burkina, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad).