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Al Qaeda No. 2 insults Obama with racial slur in new video

In what terrorism analysts say is an attempt to show that the president-elect may not meet Muslims' expectations for change in the Middle East, Ayman al-Zawahiri called Obama 'dishonorable.'

By Caryle MurphyCorrespondent of The Christian Science Monitor / November 20, 2008

RIYADH, saudi arabia

Using a racially derogatory term, Al Qaeda's second-in-command disparaged US President-elect Barack Obama in an apparent effort to deflate high expectations among Muslims that relations between the United States and the Islamic world will improve under an Obama administration, say Al Qaeda experts.

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But Ayman al-Zawahiri's racist demeaning of President-elect Obama as one of America's "house negroes," implying that he does the bidding of whites, may backfire. There is also speculation among terrorism analysts that this latest statement may reflect of Mr. Zawahiri's weakening support base.

"This won't play well. Zawahiri has over-reached," writes William McCants in an e-mail. The Washington-based founder of, which monitors Al Qaeda activity on the Internet, says that after Obama's victory racist remarks about him on jihadi websites were not universally welcomed.

Zawahiri is said to be under a lot of pressure these days because of Al Qaeda's loss of popular support following suicide attacks in Pakistan and Iraq. In addition, the group has been plagued by infighting among top officials in recent months that has included virulent attacks on Zawahiri from former confederate Sayyid Imam.

Esteemed in jihadi circles as a major theoretician, Imam has renounced jihadi ideology in writings from an Egyptian prison, where he is serving a life sentence. Imam's latest denunciations of Zawahiri, including that he worked for Sudanese intelligence in the 1990s, are appearing in the Egyptian newspaper, Al Masry Al Youm, according to

Extremist websites broadcast Zawahiri's 11-minute message. It was the terrorist group's first official reaction to Obama's win.

The video showed only a still image of Egyptian-born Zawahiri, along with other pictures, including one of Obama wearing a yarmulke and meeting Jewish leaders.

"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," said Zawahiri of Obama, according to an English transcript from Sahab, Al Qaeda's publishing arm.

Addressing Muslims, Zawahiri said that despite the election of its first African-American president, America remains "the criminal, trespassing Crusader ... so we must continue to harm it ... This, then, is the path, so stick to it."

Mustafa Alani, director of counterterrorism research at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, says Zawahiri is trying to "dampen expectations and the improvement of the US image" that have followed Obama's election.