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Feared Al-Qaeda franchise threatens revenge for US Iraq strikes

The Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, considered the network's most dangerous branch, has threatened revenge attacks against the United States for air strikes on Islamic State jihadists in Iraq.

DUBAI: The Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, considered the network's most dangerous branch, has threatened revenge attacks against the United States for air strikes on Islamic State jihadists in Iraq.

In a statement posted on the its Twitter account late on Thursday (Aug 14), AQAP said US air strikes on jihadist targets in Iraq were a "declaration of war" by "Zionist and Crusader" forces that will not go unpunished.

"The declaration of war by (US President Barack) Obama on Muslims in Iraq and the subsequent targeting of the mujahedeen by American aircraft clearly shows that the Zionist-Crusader threat is still the most dangerous to the Islamic ummah (world)," the statement said.

IS has been disavowed by the Al-Qaeda leadership and AQAP did not refer to it by name, talking instead of "our Muslim brothers in Iraq". But the key Al-Qaeda affiliate, born of a 2009 merger of its franchises in Osama bin Laden's native Saudi Arabia and ancestral homeland Yemen, expressed "solidarity" with the group.

"Once we find a way to hurt America, we will follow it, Allah permitting, as jihad is the cause of Allah," AQAP said. "We call on all Islamic groups to support their brothers by harming America and by making it part of their jihad plans to hit America militarily, economically and in the media. We call on Muslims anywhere, especially those who can enter America, to support their brothers by waging war against America in any way they can."

AQAP has been linked to a string of attempted attacks on the United States in the past, including a botched bid to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009. It has been a major target of the US "war on terror", sustaining repeated deadly drone strikes on its leadership since 2002 matched only by those on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This month, US drones and jets have raided Islamic State targets in Iraq, after the jihadists seized swathes of territory north and west of Baghdad, attacking religious minorities, including Christians.

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