The new Al Qaeda tape, attributed to Osama bin Laden, coincides with a US policy debate on the Afghan war and a new poll showing the German race tightening.
The American president took his case straight to the people on his trip this week, spending limited time with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Germany, and France.
Two recordings from the Al Qaeda chief and his deputy may signal that Obama's overtures, particularly his speech in Cairo Thursday, have put the organization on the defensive.
The president stopped in Saudi Arabia, where 79 percent of residents view him favorably, on Wednesday. But in Cairo tomorrow, he'll address a skeptical audience of 1.4 billion Muslims.
It is hard to imagine a better portrait of 9/11 and its causes.
The claim by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb that it holds hostages kidnapped more than a month ago fuels fears that the group is expanding its reach.
The president focuses on Al Qaeda and on repairing America’s image in the Muslim world.