Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri issued a video statement this week, warning the if the United States goes through with the execution of the Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, or any other Muslim prisoners, there will be the “gravest consequences.”
“If the U.S. administration kills our brother the hero Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or any Muslim, it … will bring America’s nationals the gravest consequences,” Zawahri said in the video.
Zawahri has been the leader of al Qaeda since the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011.
In his hour-long video statement, he also urged followers to take as many Westerners captive as possible — stating that those they kidnap could later be traded for Muslim prisoners. He also refers to Western countries as “criminals” and “crusaders” who “only understand the language of force,” CBS News reports. He also criticized fellow terrorist organization, ISIS, for their “severity and injustice.”
The terror group has stated that the video was intended to be released months ago, but was destroyed in a bombing.
Tsarnaev, now 22-years-old, was named specifically in the warning. He is currently on death row for the Boston Marathon bombing which killed three people and injured approximately 280 others on April 15, 2013.
A student at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth at the time, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev carried out the plot with his older brother Tamerlan — who was killed in a shootout with police. Tsarnaev was injured, but escaped — and was captured a few days later.
Originally from Kyrgyzstan, the Tsarnaev brothers had become naturalized citizens after seeking asylum in the US in 2002. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev admitted that the bombings were revenge for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the killing of Muslims.
During his sentencing, Tsarnaev apologized for his actions, saying:
“I prayed for Allah to bestow his mercy upon the deceased, those affected in the bombing and their families. Allah says in the Quran that with every hardship, there is relief. I pray for your relief, for your healing, for your well-being, for your strength.”
Tsarnaev was then sentenced to six death sentences, 20 sentences of life in prison, and four more sentences of seven to 25 years — but it could be decades before the appeal process concludes and he is scheduled for execution.