Taking a page from the playbook of the so-called Islamic State (IS), al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri issued a call for "lone wolf"-style attacks against Western targets in an audio recording released on Sunday.
"I call on all Muslims who can harm the countries of the crusader coalition not to hesitate. We must now focus on moving the war to the heart of the homes and cities of the crusader West and specifically America," Zawahri said, referring to the US-led coalition bombing militant targets in Iraq and Syria.
He suggested Muslim youth in the West look to the Tsarnaev and Kouachi brothers, who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing and Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, respectively, as examples to follow.
The recording is the second statement released this week by al Qaeda. On Wednesday, the group released a recording of Zawahri denouncing IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
"We do not acknowledge this Caliphate," he said, according to CNN. "We do not see Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as one worthy of the Caliphate."
He went on to say that IS had taken over territory by "by force and with explosions and car bombs," instead of through the choice of the people.
Despite the condemnation, Zawahri left the door open for a collaboration between the two groups in Syria and Iraq against the Western coalition there.
"Zawahri says that ISIS is absolutely not a caliphate and Baghdadi doesn't deserve to be caliph," al Qaeda expert Will McCants of the Brookings Institution told Reuters earlier this week, using an alternate name for IS. "However, it is an emirate and if he were in Iraq and Syria, he would fight alongside it. That seems like a bit of an olive branch."
It was not clear when the recording released on Sunday was made, but references to former Taliban leader Mullah Omar as being alive suggest it is at least two months old. Omar's death was announced by Afghanistan's government in late July.
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