Al Qaeda mocks Obama in new video recording

Al Qaeda’s deputy leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri insulted US-president elect Barack Obama in a new video recording using racial slurs to demean and warn Obama of a ‘heavy legacy of failure and crimes’ that awaits him in office.
Ayman al Zawahiri

BEIRUT, November 20, 2008 (MENASSAT) - In the 11-minute recording which appeared on militant Islamist web sites on Wednesday, Al-Zawahiri called Obama a ‘House Negro’- a racially charged expression used by black American civil rights leader Malcolm X in the 1960s to describe black slaves loyal to white masters.

"You represent the exact opposite of honorable black Americans like ... Malcolm  X….It is true about you and people like you ... what Malcolm X said about the house negros,” said Al-Zawahiri, including Colin Powell, the former US secretary of state, and the current secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice in the same category.

‘Enemy of Islam and Muslims’

Al-Zawahiri’s message to Obama, titled ‘the departure of Bush and arrival of Obama’ produced by Al-Qaeda’s media wing As-Sahab, marked the first high-level reaction from the organization on Obama’s election on November 4. It warned Obama of a ‘heavy legacy of failure’ awaiting him when he takes office in January next year.

Several media outlets reported that analysts believe Bin Laden might be issuing a statement on Obama within the coming weeks.

In the recording, Al- Zawahri offered staunch criticism to Obama's support for Israel, scolding him for ‘choosing to be an enemy of Islam and Muslims’ and saying that the Islamic ‘nation had bitterly received’ Obama’s pledge to support Israel.

A juxtaposed image then appears in the tape, showing Al-Zawahiri wearing a white Turban next to Obama praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem during his pre-election visit to Israel.

The message also brought up Obama’s father’s Muslim heritage and the President-elect’s Christian religion.

"You were born to a Muslim father, but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims, and pray the prayer of the Jews, although you claim to be Christian, in order to climb the rungs of leadership in America,” said Zawahiri.

Foreign policy critique

Al-Zawahari continued by scorning Obama’s plans to withdraw from Iraq and send the troops to Afghanistan, saying it ‘is a policy which was destined to fail even before it was born.’

“If you still want to be stubborn about America’s failure in Afghanistan, then remember the fate of Bush and Pervez Musharraf, and the fate of the Soviets and British before them. Beware that the dogs of Afghanistan have savored the taste of your soldiers’ flesh, so do send them in thousands,” he said.

About Iraq, Al-Zawahiri said that although ‘evidence of America's defeat in Iraq appeared years ago, Bush and his administration continue to be stubborn and deny the brilliant midday sun.’

"If Bush has achieved anything, it is in his transfer of America's disaster and predicament to his successor," the speaker said. "But the American people, by electing Obama, declared their anxiety and apprehension about the future towards which the policy of the likes of Bush is leading them. And so they decided to support someone calling for withdrawal from Iraq,” he continued.

Al-Zawahiri then called for Islamic fighters to strike a ‘criminal’ United States until it fully withdraws from Arab lands.

Expert reactions

Al-Qaeda experts have reacted to the tape, many saying that Al-Zawahiri’s use of racial slurs is an ‘apparent effort to deflate high expectations’ among Muslims around the world that relations between the US and the Islamic world will ameliorate under Obama.

Mustafa Alani, director of counterterrorism research at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, said in an article published by the Christian Science Monitor that Zawahiri is trying to ‘dampen expectations and the improvement of the US image following Obama’s election.

Some terrorism analysts explain that Al-Zawahiri’s message might reflect his weakening support base.

"This won't play well. Zawahiri has over-reached," writes William McCants in an e-mail to the Christian Science Monitor. McCants is the founder of, which monitors Al Qaeda activity on the Internet.

Zawahiri is reported to be under pressure these days due to Al Qaeda's loss of popular support after numerous suicide attacks in Pakistan and Iraq. The organization has also been said to suffer from infighting among senior officials in recent months.

The US has strongly condemned Al-Zawahiri’s threats and derogatory racial scorns against Obama. The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement condemning terrorism and the video's ‘threatening rhetoric and racial slurs.’ The group emphasized that Al-Zawahiri ‘doesn't speak for Muslims in this country or worldwide.’

The release of the tape coincided with a suspected US air strike into Pakistan in which a senior al-Qaeda affiliate was said to have been among six suspected militants killed when a US drone launched a missile attack at a house in the north west of the country.

Sources: Reuters, AP, CNN, and Daily Telegraph, and the Christian Science Monitor