Al-Qaeda Leader Urges Kidnapping of Westerners
al-Zawahri wants to use them to free jihadists
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 27, 2012 8:30 AM CDT
Ayman al-Zawahiri in a still image from a web posting in 2011.   (Anonymous)

(Newser) – The leader of al-Qaeda has urged Muslims to kidnap Westerners to exchange for imprisoned jihadists, including a blind cleric serving a life sentence in the United States for a 1993 plot to blow up New York City landmarks. In an undated two-hour videotape posted this week on militant forums, Ayman al-Zawahri also urged support for Syria's uprising and called for the implementation of Islamic Shariah law in Egypt.

He said that abducting nationals of "countries waging wars on Muslims" is the only way to free "our captives and Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman," the Egyptian cleric. "This is the only language which they understand," said al-Zawahri, appearing in his customary white turban and robe. "We will keep on seizing more ... until we free our captives." There was little clue to his whereabouts from the video, shot against a backdrop of brown curtains.