Americans marked the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks this week, as did al-Qaeda, with their semi-regular reminder that they still exist and still hate America. Ayman al-Zawahiri, who became head of the global terrorist group after the death of Osama bin Laden, released an audio-only message on Thursday, calling for continued attacks and provocations on the United States.
Unfortunately for al-Zawahiri, the message — containing the usual pleas to strike back at America and drain both its spirit and resources — only underscores the weakness of al-Qaeda's current position. For example, he specifically cites the Boston Marathon bombing as the kind "lone wolf" attack that can hurt the United States, but the perpetrators of that attack were not affiliated with al-Qaeda. It seems two untrained kids have accomplished more than al-Qaeda's entire network of highly-trained terrorists have in years.
He's also declared victory in Yemen despite numerous drone strikes that have killed dozens of operatives there. Although, the U.S. did close its embassy there this summer, the fight has continued. His best argument is to "bleed America economically by provoking it to continue in its massive expenditure on its security." We have spent trillions on security and defense, but it's yet to bankrupt us.
There's also the fact that he can't show his face in public for fear of getting caught. The 72-minute message only even mentioned the United States briefly, with al-Zawahiri spending much of the "broadcast" talking about Egypt's revolution (which he did manage to blame on the U.S.) and other issues in the larger Muslim world. Obviously, is al-Qaeda is still threat and still wants to hurt America, but we already knew that even without their occasional reminders.