Al Qaeda leader warns of 'gravest consequences' if Boston marathon bomber executed

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Al Qaeda: "gravest consequences" if Boston bomber executed

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri has warned the United States of the "gravest consequences" if Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or any other Muslim prisoner is executed.

Tsarnaev, named in a new online video message from Zawahri, was sentenced last year to death by lethal injection for the 2013 bomb attack, which killed three people and injured more than 260.

"If the U.S. administration kills our brother the hero Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or any Muslim, it ... will bring America's nationals the gravest consequences," Zawahri said.

Zawahri, who became al Qaeda's leader after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, urged Muslims to take captive as many Westerners as possible, especially those whose countries had joined the "Crusaders' Campaign led by the United States".

See images of Tsarnaev's trial:

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BOSTON, MA - MAY 13: TV cameras line the entrance of John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as the Boston Bomber Trial enters jury deliberations in the sentencing phase of the trail on May 13, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 13: Members of the legal defense team for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, including William Fick (from left), Miriam Conrad, Judy Clarke and Timothy Watkins leave John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse after the beginning of jury deliberations in the sentencing phase of the Boston Bomber Trial on May 13, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 13: Members of the public line up to enter John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as the Boston Bomber Trial is slated to start closing arguments on May 13, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 11: A protester holds up a sign outside of John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as the Tsarnaev defense nears its end of presenting case in sentencing phase of the Boston Bomber Trial on May 11, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 11: Sister Helen Prejean is surrounded by media after testifying at John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as the Tsarnaev defense nears its end of presenting case in sentencing phase of the Boston Bomber Trial on May 11, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MAY 04: Members of the legal defense team for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, including Miriam Conrad, (from left), Judy Clarke and David Bruck arrive at John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as the sentencing phase in the Boston Bomber Trial continues on May 4, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries and his relatives are expected to take the stand to testify. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Members of the legal defense team for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, including (L-R) David Bruck, Timothy G. Watkins and Judy Clarke leave John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse as the sentencing phase In Boston Bomber Trial continues on April 27, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Members of the legal defense team for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, including William Fick (L) and Timothy G. Watkins walk away from John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse during the first day of the sentencing phase of the Boston Marathon Bomber Trial on April 21, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which related in three deaths and over 250 injuries.(Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 21: Media and police vechicles are reflected in the entranceway of John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse during the first day of the sentencing phase of the Boston Marathon Bomber Trial on April 21, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON - APRIL 8: The jury found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty at the Boston Marathon bombing trial at Moakley Federal Court. Bombing survivor Karen Brassard pauses as she answers a question outside the courthouse after the verdict. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 8: Dana Cohen, (from left), Carlos Arredondo, Karen Brassard, Liz Norden, Laurie Scher and Massport Fire Lt. Michael Ward at a press conference outside of John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse following a verdict in the Marathon Bombing case on on April 8, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, was found guilty on all 30 counts related to his involvement in the 2013 bombing, which resulted in three deaths and over 250 injuries. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 9: An artist's sketch of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hangs on the wall outside the Moakley courthouse for videographers to record during the Marathon bombing trial. (Photo by Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 11: Members of the media film evidence from the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Boston Marathon bombing trial on display at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston on March 11, 2015 . (Photo by John Blanding/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 4: Opening statements in the trial of the Boston Marathon bomber took place at Moakley Federal Courthouse. A construction crew lowers a form to pour concrete in with the words 'Boston Strong' spray painted on it at a construction site directly across from the courthouse. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 5: Boston Marathon bombing victim, Rebekah Gregory, right, arrived at Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, where the second day in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev got underway on March 5, 2015. (Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 4: Joe Kebartas of South Boston protests the death penalty outside of the entrance to the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse during the first day of the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial on March 4, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in an attack on the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon along with his brother Tamerlan, who was later killed during a shootout with police. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON - MARCH 4: Jose Briceno, of Cambridge, Mass., protests outside Moakley Federal Courthouse, where opening statements began in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on March 4, 2015. (Photo by Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
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The veteran Egyptian-born Islamist, shown wearing white robes and sitting in front of green velvet drapes, said the Western captives could then be exchanged for Muslim prisoners.

Western powers "are criminals and they only understand the language of force", he added.

The nearly hour-long video, which included images of Tsarnaev, gave no indication of the location of Zawahri, believed to be based close to the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Tsarnaev carried out the Boston bombings along with his older brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a confrontation with police soon after. No organization claimed responsibility.

Tsarnaev is being held at the "Supermax" high-security prison in Florence, Colorado, while his attorneys appeal his death sentence.

Legal wrangling over Tsarnaev's fate could play out for years or even decades. Just three of the 74 people sentenced to death in the United States for federal crimes since 1998 have been executed.

(Reporting by Mostafa Hashem; Writing by Amina Ismail; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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