Al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri released a video statement Nov. 19 calling US President-elect Barack Obama a “house slave” who had aligned himself with the “enemies” of Islam. “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,” the militant leader said.
Zawahiri charged that Obama is not an “honorable Black American” like Malcolm X, but an “abeed al-beit”—a word that translates as house slave but was rendered “house negro” in the message’s English subtitles. The audio was accompanied by footage of a speech by Malcolm X in which he distinguished between “field negroes” who hated their white masters and obsequious “house negroes.”
The statement explicitly responded to Obama’s recent comments on Afghanistan. “What you have announced before…that you will withdraw troops from Iraq [and send them] to Afghanistan is a policy that is doomed to failure,” said the message made available by the SITE Intelligence Group. He also called for new attacks against the US: “America, the criminal, trespassing crusader, continues to be the same as ever, so we must continue to harm it in order for it to come to its senses.”
Obama visited Israel in July and expressed his “abiding commitment” to its security, and has said stamping out al-Qaeda “once and for all” will be a top priority of his administration. In his first TV interview since his election (60 Minutes, Nov. 16), he said capturing or killing Osama bin Laden was “critical” to US security. He also reiterated his commitment to bolster the military presence in Afghanistan. (BBC News, AFP, Nov. 19)
“Obama’s election has taken the wind out of al-Qaeda’s sails in much of the Islamic world because it demonstrates America’s renewed commitment to multiculturalism, human rights, and international law. It also proves to many that democracy can work and overcome ethnic, sectarian, or racial barriers.
“Obama’s commitment to withdraw from Iraq also takes away an al-Qaeda propaganda tenet: that the US seeks to occupy oil-rich Arab lands. His commitment to defeat al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan also challenges their plans. Most of all, by returning to American values the world admires, Obama sets al-Qaeda back enormously in the battle of ideas, the ideological struggle which determines whether al-Qaeda will continue to have significant support in the Islamic world.”
To which we say: Insh’allah