This morning, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri released a statement assuming responsibility for the terror attacks carried out on Barnard lawn last week. Al-Zawahiri asserted that the relocation of the tree “marks the indelible mark of Jihad on the west, and emphasizes the extraordinary power and global reach that al-Qaeda boasts. In uprooting your tree, we uproot your very way of being, and by putting it down again give or take 10 feet to the east, we show the immutable pull of Allah towards Mecca.”
The attacks were carried out throughout November 23, and involved a coordinated effort from a large construction team, who operated out of a large truck. At the time of writing, the NYPD has few leads as to how al-Qaeda could have organized such an attack. Counterterrorism experts are investigating a series of Arabic numerals seen on the side of the truck, which the police believe could be a code capable of linking satellite telecommunication devices on a global scale. According to these experts, the widespread use of such codes could facilitate an unprecedented rise in worldwide attacks.
Students around campus were shaken by the event, but much of the focus in the aftermath of the attack has focused on how views toward Muslim students might shift in the coming months. Middle Eastern studies major Abdul al-Rahman (CC ’17) said “it is important to note that this was the action of a few fundamentalists, and is not representative of the religion as a whole. I promise you the Quran is a peaceful text, and even the more violent passages should certainly be interpreted in an historical context.” Abdul al-Rahman was later detained by police as a potential conspirator in the attacks.
This comes shortly after news broke of a falling tree crushing an ISIS leader in Syria last month. Reports indicate that al-Qaeda planted it.