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Photo capture of 2003 Al Jazeera interview with then-al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri appeared in a new video released on Saturday, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: Last November, rumors spread that Osama bin Laden's former No. 2 had died from an illness though senior leadership never commented. In the new video, al-Zawahri makes references that extend to at least January, according to the monitoring group SITE Intelligence.

  • Al-Zawahri discusses the United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan but not the Taliban takeover, suggesting the possibility this may not be a recent reference. Under Donald Trump, the United States entered into an agreement with the Taliban committing to leave Afghanistan in February 2020.
  • The only specific date referenced by al-Zawahri in the video is a Jan. 1 attack, which targeted Russian troops near the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.

The big picture: President Biden and his national security advisers have downplayed the threat posed by al-Qaeda following the United States' withdrawal.

  • Al-Qaeda's power remains unclear, but the Taliban released many of the group's senior operatives when it captured Bagram Air Base last month.
  • Civil war will "likely" erupt in Afghanistan and this could lead to al-Qaeda's resurgence, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Fox News.

Of note: Biden now plans to combat terror groups in Afghanistan from "over the horizon," and warns that the threat has "metastasized" beyond Afghanistan and al-Qaeda.

Go deeper: Counterterrorism goes remote after 20 years

Go deeper

Sep 19, 2021 - World

Taliban forces Kabul's female city employees out of their jobs

Afghan female activists gather in Kabul to protest against Taliban restrictions on Sept. 19. Photo: Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

New restrictions issued by the Taliban on Sunday will force the majority of Kabul's female municipal workers out of their jobs, the Associated Press reported.

Why it matters: Despite the Taliban's efforts to cast a more tempered image this time around, vowing to respect women's rights within Islamic "frameworks," the restrictions are the latest sign the group is returning to the oppressive tactics it used when last in power, from 1996 to 2001.

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.