Al-Qaida chief in 9/11 speech calls for attacks on West

CAIRO (AP) — Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri has called on Muslims to attack U.S., European, Israeli and Russian targets in a speech on the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

SITE Intelligence Group reports that in a video released by the militant group, Zawahri also criticizes "backtrackers" from jihad, referring to former jihadis who changed their views in prison and called the 9/11 attacks unacceptable because innocent civilians were harmed.

The coordinated al-Qaida hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001 killed nearly 3,000 people, when airliners slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and another crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

Zawahri, an Egyptian, became leader of al-Qaida following the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALS. He is believed to be hiding somewhere in the region.