The second-ranking leader of the al-Qaeda network, Ayman al-Zawahri, said in a new video that US President Barack Obama “did not change anything” in the Muslims’ perception of the US, al-Qaeda monitors said.
“The new President Obama did not change anything of the image of America towards Muslims and the oppressed,” according to excerpts of Zawahri’s statement released by the SITE Intelligence Group.
“It is America that is still killing Muslims in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan,” al-Qaeda’s No. 2 said in the video that was released on Sunday.
“It is America that steals their fortunes, occupies their land, and supports the thieving, corrupt and traitor rulers in their countries,” Zawahri said. “And consequently, the problem is not over. Rather, it is likely to deteriorate and escalate.”
Earlier this month, Obama used his visit to Turkey to declare that the US is not and never will be at war with Islam.
From the well of the Turkish parliament, Obama warned “you cannot put out fire with flames,” arguing that brute force alone could not thwart extremism as he sent a flurry of coded messages throughout the Middle East.
The president said US ties with the Muslim world could not be simply defined by opposition to terrorism, decades into a US struggle with extremism that was sharpened by the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
But according to the monitoring group, Zawahri insisted that the Obama administration was just conducting the same policies as the administration of former president George W. Bush, but with a different face.
“America came to us with a new face, attempting to fool us with it; a face that calls for change, but to change us, so that we give up our faith and our rights, not to change their crimes, aggressions, thefts and their scandals,” he said, according to the excerpts.
Zawahri also asserted that Obama’s new policies in Afghanistan would only lead to defeat, as was the case with the Soviets and the British before. Last month, Obama announced a new strategy for the more than seven-year war in Afghanistan, with a focus on defeating insurgents hiding out in safe havens in neighboring Pakistan.
The US president said he would add 4,000 US troops in Afghanistan, triple US aid to Pakistan to US$7.5 billion over five years, attempt to peel away more moderate Taliban factions and lead a global civilian surge to Afghanistan.
In his video, Zawahri also criticized what he portrayed as the hypocrisy of the US for attempting to apply Western democracy in the Middle East, but only when it suits US needs.
“The Western crusade showed us the truth of their democracy, its freedom, its justice and the rights of its man, not of our man, the rights of the Western man to enslave all men other than he, because he who is not Western is not considered to belong to the human race,” he said.
Zawahri also told residents of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip that only jihad would liberate Palestine, the SITE Intelligence Group said.
Toward the end of his appeal, he called on all Muslims to join the jihad and asked for financial support.