Senior Yemen Al-Qaida Leader Calls for Attacks on Jews, State Dept. Designates Him ‘Terrorist’

DUBAI (Reuters) -

A senior leader of al-Qaida’s Yemen branch has called for knife and car attacks on Jews in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Yerushalayim  as the capital of Israel, the U.S. SITE monitoring group said on Tuesday.

Citing a video recording by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s al-Malahem media foundation, SITE said that Khaled Batarfi, believed to be the number two man in al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsular (AQAP) after Qassim al-Raymi, also warned that no Muslim had the right to cede any part of Jerusalem.

“The Muslims inside the occupied land must kill every Jew, by running him over, or stabbing him, or by using against him any weapon, or by burning their homes,” Batarfi said in the 18-minute-long recording entitled “Our duty towards our Jerusalem,” according to SITE.

“Every Muslim must know that the Americans and the disbeliever West, and on top of them Britain and France, are the original reason behind the existence of the Jews in Palestine.”

Batarfi was one of some 150 jailed AQAP members who were freed when the militant group, regarded by the United States as one of the deadliest branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden, captured the Yemeni port city of Mukalla in 2015, where he was held.

Yemeni forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition have since recaptured Mukalla and driven AQAP out, but Batarfi, who has since assumed a senior position in the group, remains at large.

AQAP has plotted to down U.S. airliners and claimed responsibility for 2015 attacks on the office of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. AQAP also has boasted of the world’s most feared bomb makers, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, and the Pentagon estimates it has between about 2,000 and 3,000 fighters.

Batarfi said Muslims in Western countries, including the United States, were obliged to target the interests of Jews and the Americans.

“They must be eager to prepare themselves as much as possible, and to carry out jihadi operations against them,” he added, according to SITE.

In an action by the Department of State on Tuesday, AQAP leader Khalid Batarfi was designated a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under section 1(b) of Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.

This means that the Department of State notifies the U.S. public and the international community that Khalid Batarfi has committed or poses a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism. Terrorist designations expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. This is an effort to deny Batarfi the resources he needs to plan and carry out further terrorist attacks.

Among other consequences, all of Batarfi’s property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with him.