An Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader warned Sunni Muslims of a rising “Christian-Shiite alliance” against them in an audio message released on jihadist forums late on Friday.
Abu Sufyan al-Azdi called the participation of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Iran’s former foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki at a conference on terrorism in Yemen “is the biggest proof of the Christian-Shiite alliance.”
“America and Iran became one alliance against the Sunni people in the area,” added the Saudi AQAP leader, who was formerly imprisoned for six years at the US detention centre in Guantanamo, in a 16-minute audio message.
Azdi was referring to the annual Manama Dialogue, held in December by the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies and billed as the “most important regional security meeting in the Middle East.”
The AQAP chief also warned Sunnis in Yemen that they risked being massacred at the hands of northern Shiite Zaidi rebels, also known as Huthis, and urged them not to be caught unprepared.
“Sunnis, be careful from the massacres… that happened in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen to happen to you while you are unarmed… prepare yourselves before it is too late… buy weapons… protect your religion, your lives and your honor.”
Yemen, the ancestral homeland of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has been a growing focus for the operations of his worldwide network, sparking a sharp increase in US military aid.
But Al-Qaeda attacks had previously been largely confined to the capital Sanaa and to the mainly Sunni south and east of Yemen, rather than the Shiite-dominant north.
In a statement dated November 25 and posted online on jihadist websites, the group called the Huthi rebels “legitimate targets” and said “new attacks are being prepared” against them.