/ 19 November 2008

Al-Zawahiri sends warning to Obama

Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri condemned United States president-elect Barack Obama as a ”house Negro” and warned him against sending more troops to Afghanistan, in an internet audio message released on Wednesday.

Al-Zawahiri insulted Obama and other black Americans who have held high office in the US administration with the term used by the late black militant leader Malcolm X.

”It is true about you and people like you … what Malcolm X said about the house Negroes,” he said, naming former secretary of state Colin Powell and the current secretary, Condoleezza Rice.

An English transcript of the speech purportedly by the al-Qaeda number two was provided by al-Qaeda’s media arm, As-Sahab.

The tape features an old speech by Malcolm X in which he used the two terms, referring to house slaves who were considered more docile and on better terms with their masters than the field slaves.

On the political front, al-Zawahiri said: ”What you have announced before … that you will withdraw [US] troops from Iraq [and send them] to Afghanistan is a policy that is doomed to failure …

”If you still want to be stubborn about America’s failure in Afghanistan, then remember the fate of [US President George] Bush and (Pakistan’s former president) Pervez Musharraf, and the fate of the Soviets and British before them.”

In the message made available by SITE Intelligence Group in the United States, al-Zawahiri warned Obama of a ”heavy legacy of failure” awaiting him in office.

”Beware that the [stray] dogs of Afghanistan have savoured the taste of your soldiers’ flesh, so do send them in thousands,” said the closest aide to al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

In a major interview aired on Sunday, Obama vowed no retreat from his campaign promise to begin pulling troops out of Iraq and switch the military focus to Afghanistan.

Al-Zawahiri’s message, titled ”the departure of Bush and arrival of Obama”, was aired in a videotape featuring a portrait of al-Zawahiri with a white turban, next to Obama’s picture praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem during a pre-election visit to Israel.

The backdrop also shows a picture of Malcolm X, the African-American Muslim leader who was assassinated in 1965.

”You represent the opposite to honourable Black Americans like … Malcolm X,” Zawahiri said, while old footage of Malcolm X’s speeches on human rights and equality was played.

He scolded Obama for ”choosing to be an enemy of Islam and Muslims,” saying that the Muslim ”nation had bitterly received” Obama’s pledge of support to Israel.

”You have chosen to stand in the ranks of the enemies of Muslims and pray the prayer of the Jews, although you claim that your mother is Christian,” Zawahiri added. — AFP