Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is still in Pakistan, a Pentagon official said Wednesday, following the release of a video in which Osama bin Laden’s successor blasts the United States.
“We have no information to indicate that he is anywhere else than in Pakistan,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
Zawahiri, a veteran Egyptian militant and long-time al Qaeda number two, took over the jihadist network after bin Laden was killed in a clandestine raid by US Navy commandos in Pakistan on May 2.
Like his slain co-conspirator, Zawahiri has been in hiding since the US declared a “war on terror” after the 9/11 attacks, and invaded Afghanistan whose Taliban leaders had harboured bin Laden.
Zawahiri — in the 62-minute video entitled The Dawn of Imminent Victory, and which featured a speech by bin Laden — said he was praying this year’s Arab Spring would be followed by a “gloomy, bitter-cold American winter.”
“The popular revolutions, he stated, are a form of defeat for the US, just as the 9/11 attacks and its alleged lack of success in Afghanistan and Iraq were also defeats,” the US monitoring service SITE said.
Zawahiri was only shown in a still picture in the video, which was released by al Qaeda’s media arm, as-Sahab.
The Pentagon said the footage of bin Laden in the video appeared to be the same material found in the US raid on his Pakistan hideout in May.
Earlier, officials cited by MSNBC said it would be extremely risky for al-Zawahiri to try to move “outside his circle of protection” at this point, and that ever since bin Laden’s death, al-Zawahiri spends most of his time “trying to stay alive.”