CAIRO — Al Qaeda’s leader marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks by calling on Muslims on Friday to strike inside the United States, with big attacks or small, using any opportunity they can to ‘‘bleed’’ America financially.
In an audio message released two days after the 12th anniversary of the attacks, Ayman al-Zawahri said America is not a ‘‘mythic power’’ and that the mujahedeen — Islamic holy warriors — can defeat it with attacks ‘‘on its own soil.’’
Zawahri, the successor to Osama bin Laden, used the anniversary to argue that the United States can be defeated by targeting its economy. At the same time, he also addressed the ongoing upheaval in the Arab world. Pointing to a power struggle within the rebellion against Syria’s regime, he warned jihadi fighters in that country’s civil war not ‘‘compromise’’ with more secular or moderate rebel factions, who he said would eventually turn against the Al Qaeda-linked radicals.
The message’s authenticity could not be independently confirmed. It was posted on a militant website commonly used by Al Qaeda.
Zawahri, believed to be hiding in the Pakistani-Afghan border regions, said Al Qaeda allies should stage small attacks or a ‘‘big strike,’’ leaving America in ‘‘a state of tension’’ about when and where the next hit would come.
Small attacks could be done by only a few or even just one person, while at the same time ‘‘we must watch and wait to seize any opportunity to direct a large strike on [America], even if that takes years of patience to do it,’’ he said.
‘‘We should bleed America economically by motivating it to continue its huge expenditure on its security as America’s weak point is its economy, which already has begun stumbling because of the military and security expenditure,’’ he said.