A senior al-Qaeda leader was placed on the US State Department’s list of global terrorists a day after he called on Muslims to “attack the Jews and the Americans everywhere” in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In a video released Monday, Khalid Batarfi said Trump’s decision was “a declaration of a new Jewish-Crusader war” and every Muslim had a duty to “liberate” the holy city, the SITE Intelligence monitoring group reported.
According to Tuesday’s State Department announcement, “This designation seeks to deny Batarfi the resources he needs to plan and carry out further terrorist attacks.” Among the consequences of the designation, “all of Batarfi’s property and interests in property subject to US jurisdiction are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with him.”
In the 18-minute video, Batarfi, a top commander with the terror group’s powerful Yemen-based branch, said that “no Muslim has the right to cede Jerusalem no matter what happens. Only a traitor would give it up or hand it over.”
“Let them (Muslims) rise and attack the Jews and the Americans everywhere,” he said, calling for stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Jews in Israel.
“The Muslims inside the occupied land must kill every Jew, by running him over, or stabbing him, or by using any weapon against him, or by burning their homes,” Batarfi said.
Batarfi was the top commander for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, in Abyan Governate, Yemen, described by the US as the worldwide jihadist network’s most dangerous branch. In April 2015, Batarfi was released from a Yemeni prison in an attack by AQAP militants.
The group has abducted foreigners and claimed responsibility for the deadly 2015 terrorist attack in Paris on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, targeted for its cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
The US stepped up its air attacks on AQAP since Trump took office last January.
Breaking with decades of US policy, Trump on December 6 said his administration would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and move its embassy from Tel Aviv to the city. Trump insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.
The move was hailed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum. It also provoked fury from the Palestinians, who said the US could no longer serve as a peace mediator, and prompted condemnations from much of the international community.
Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.
On Monday, in a speech to the Knesset that saw Arab lawmakers expelled after they shouted in protest, US Vice President Mike Pence pledged to move the embassy by the end of 2019.
Jerusalem is holy to both Jews and Muslims.
The US decision to recognize Jerusalem triggered protests across the Muslim world, and was also criticized by several US allies.
In the video, Batarfi dismissed US allies’ protests as not genuine and “nothing but dust thrown in the eyes.”