DUBAI, (Reuters) – The wife of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri praised Muslim women for their role in the Arab Spring uprisings and said the unrest would soon lead to an “Islamic Spring”, according to a rare message posted online on Friday.
The letter, signed by Omaima Hassan, singled out women beaten during Egypt’s unrest and lauded mothers for bringing up the revolutionaries who went on to topple four heads of state it described as “tyrant criminals”.
It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the undated message, posted on a website used by Islamist militants.
Al Qaeda was effectively sidelined by Arab Spring uprisings, launched mainly by middle class activists and intellectuals eager for economic and political reforms.
But there have been signs that the militant network has since been trying to capitalize on the unrest.
“I congratulate all females of the world for these blessed revolutions and I salute every mother who sacrificed her loved ones in the revolutions. It is really an Arab Spring and will soon become an Islamic Spring,” read the message.
“These revolutions toppled the tyrant criminals, and thanks to your efforts, patience and raising your sons in dignity,” it added.
The message urged Muslim women to keep wearing the veil. “The veil is the Muslim woman’s identity and the West wants to remove this identity so she will be without an identity.”
It added: “My advice to you sisters is to raise your children on the love of martyrdom … and to prepare them for restoring the glories of Islam and the liberation of Jerusalem.”
A similar message was posted online in Omaima Hassan’s name in 2009.
Friday’s posting came several months after an eight-minute video recording by Zawahri urging Syrians not to rely on Western or Arab governments to help their uprising to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
Zawahri took command of the Islamist militant network after the group’s founder and leader, Osama bin Laden, was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in May last year.
Zawahri’s Libyan-born second-in-command, Abu Yahya al Libi, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan earlier this week.
According to the message posted on Friday, Omaima Hassan said she hoped that the uprisings sparked by a Tunisian setting himself on fire would “liberate Jerusalem” and restore it to its days of glory.
“We will have a new Islamic state based on sharia (Islamic law) arbitration, and we will free Palestine and build a state of succession to the prophecy,” the message added.
Israel captured Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians want the city, annexed by Israel unilaterally, to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.