In a propaganda salvo by al-Qaida aimed at undercutting the enthusiasm of Muslims worldwide about the U.S. presidential election, Osama bin...
WASHINGTON — In a propaganda salvo by al-Qaida aimed at undercutting the enthusiasm of Muslims worldwide about the U.S. presidential election, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy condemned President-elect Obama as a “house Negro” who would continue a campaign against Islam that al-Qaida’s leaders said was begun by President Bush.
Appealing to the “weak and oppressed” around the world, the al-Qaida deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, said in a video released Wednesday that the “new face” of America only masked a “heart full of hate.”
For years, the terrorist network sought to fuel anti-Americanism with prolific audio and video recordings vilifying Bush as the leading U.S. “crusader” against Muslim nations.
The election of Obama, a black man whose father was from a Muslim family and who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, has muddied al-Qaida’s message.
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The al-Qaida leader described the victory by Obama, who has called for a troop withdrawal from Iraq, as the American people’s “admission of defeat in Iraq.” But he warned Obama that the United States risked a reprise of the Soviet Union’s failures in Afghanistan if the president-elect followed through on pledges to deploy thousands more troops to that country to carry on the fight against al-Qaida and its Taliban allies.
And in a blunt personal attack on the president-elect, al-Zawahri painted Obama as a hypocrite and traitor to his race, comparing him unfavorably with “honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X, a 1960s Black Muslim leader.
The Obama transition office declined to comment on the message.
The 11-minute, 23-second video featured an audio message by al-Zawahri, played over a still image of the al-Qaida No. 2.
It was provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant Web sites, and drew extensively on archival footage of Malcolm X. Much of the message juxtaposes a still picture of Obama wearing a yarmulke during a visit to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem with a photo of Malcolm X kneeling in prayer at a mosque.
The video shows Malcolm X speaking about the docile “house Negro,” who he said “always looked out for his master,” and the “field Negro,” who was abused by whites and was more rebellious. The video also insulted two prominent black diplomats, the former and current secretaries of state, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.
The video by al-Zawahri, an Egyptian physician, contains no specific warning of an attack against the United States. But the al-Qaida leader tells his followers that America “continues to be the same as ever, so we must continue to harm it, in order for it to come to its senses.”
U.S. officials said they believed the video was authentic.
U.S. anti-terrorism officials and other experts dismissed it as a desperate tactic by a terrorist group that suffered a defeat in the global war of ideas with Obama’s election.
Jeremy Binnie, an analyst with Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center, said al-Zawahri’s message suggests al-Qaida leaders are worried “that Obama could be effective in rebuilding America’s image.”
Ronald Walters, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, said he wondered whether al-Qaida was responding to the aggressive tone of Obama’s campaign pledges to go after the terrorist network and capture or kill bin Laden.
Walters said if the tape was an attempt to reach black Americans or the Third World, it was “ham-handed” and futile.
“You’re talking about someone who looks like the rest of the world, and that’s got to be threatening to them,” he said, referring to Obama. “On 9/11, al-Qaida didn’t make any racial distinctions in who it killed, and people remember that.”
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.
U.S. airstrike kills 5
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Striking for the first time beyond Pakistan’s tribal areas, a pilotless U.S. aircraft fired missiles at a village well inside Pakistani territory Wednesday, killing five foreign extremists, a Pakistani intelligence official and local residents said.
The attack appeared to represent a widening of the U.S. campaign aimed at killing al-Qaida and Taliban fighters, who use safe havens in Pakistan as a springboard for attacks against NATO and U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani government did not immediately comment. The strike was aimed at a residential compound in Indi Khel, an intelligence official said.
Two of the extremists killed were Arabs and three were Uzbeks, the official said. Four civilians were wounded.
The New York Times