After almost a year of silence, Ayman al-Zawahri, the 64-year-old emir of al-Qaeda, late this week issued two audio messages. In one he proclaimed his loyalty to the new head of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor. In the second, he introduced a longer message from Osama bin Laden's favorite son Hamza urging attacks on America, England, France and Israel. Zawahri is back in the game.
Zawahri's last message to the public was in September 2014, when he announced the creation of a new al-Qaeda franchise in India (private covert messages to his followers giving instructions never ceased). The 2014 audio message was followed almost immediately by al-Qaeda's most audacious terror plot in over a decade — an attempt to hijack a Chinese built Pakistani navy frigate named the Zulfiqar. The plan was to seize the frigate with al-Qaeda recruited members of the Pakistani navy, take the ship into the Arabian Sea and attack an American aircraft carrier or other suitable target. The goal was to spark a war between the United States and Pakistan, a history-changing terror attack even bigger than 9/11. Bold and dangerous, it was a vintage Zawahri plot.