Al-Qaida’s deputy leader on Tuesday criticized President Barack Obama’s upcoming speech to the Islamic world in Cairo, saying it will not change the “bloody messages” the U.S. military is sending Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. Al-Qaida has repeatedly lashed out at Obama since he was elected, a move some analysts believe indicates the terrorist organization is worried he will be effective in improving the U.S. image in the Muslim world.
Obama has pitched his speech at Cairo University on Thursday as a key part of that process.
“His bloody messages were received and are still being received by Muslims, and they will not be concealed by public relations campaigns or by farcical visits or elegant words,” said Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida’s No. 2, in a new audio message posted on militant Web sites.
Al-Zawahri said the Egyptian officials who will welcome Obama are U.S. “slaves” and have turned the country into an “international station of torture in America’s war on Islam.” He was likely referring to suspected Islamic militants who have been captured by the U.S. and sent to Egypt for interrogation, a process known as rendition.
Al-Zawahri urged Egyptians to reject Obama when he makes his speech, calling him “that criminal who came seeking, with deception, to obtain what he failed to achieve in the field after the mujahideen ruined the project of the crusader America in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.”
He said Obama’s decision to come to Cairo showed the U.S. had not given up its alliances with dictatorial and corrupt Mideast governments.
“It is a clear message that America does not stand with reform and change and other lying American propaganda, but it stands with the continuation of the existing tyrannical, rotten regimes,” said al-Zawahri.
The authenticity of the almost 12-minute audio message titled “The Torturers of Egypt and the Agents of America Welcome Obama” could not be confirmed. But it was posted on militant Web sites that have been used by al-Qaida in the past and carried the logo of As-Sahab, the terrorist organization’s media wing.
Al-Zawahri criticized Obama’s trip to Israel before he was elected president and his visit to the Western Wall — Judaism’s holiest site, also known as the Wailing Wall — where he wore a yarmulke.
“The White House said that Obama will send a message from Egypt to the Islamic world, but they forgot that his messages have already been received by the Islamic world when he visited the Wailing Wall, put on his head the Jew’s cap and prayed their prayers, though he claims to be Christian,” said al-Zawahri.
The audio message was accompanied by a picture of al-Zawahri wearing a white robe and white turban. It also included videos of Obama visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem and speaking at AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobbying organization in the United States.
Shortly after Obama was elected last November, al-Zawahri issued a Web message in which he slurred Obama with a demeaning racial term for a black American who does the bidding of whites, calling him and former secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice “house Negroes.”