Al-Qaeda Leader Urged Kidnapping of Americans to Exchange for Prisoners Earlier This Year

Curtis Kalin
By Curtis Kalin | June 2, 2014 | 10:58 AM EDT

A 1998 file photo shows Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri in Khost, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Mazhar Ali Khan, File)

In late April, Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called on his fellow jihadists to kidnap Americans so they could be swapped for terrorists prisoners held by the United States:

"I ask Allah the Glorious to help us set free Dr Omar Abdel-Rahman and the rest of the captive Muslims, and I ask Allah to help us capture from among the Americans and the westerners to enable us to exchange them for our captives."

Just weeks after that statement, the United States exchanged captured American soldier Bowe Bergdahl for five high profile Taliban commanders.