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In-depth Analysis of Video from Ayman al-Zawahiri

“Perhaps tainted food, forest fires, small acts of sabotage, various incidents and random acts of violence by Muslims against American citizens being seen in the news are what he is referring to.”

By Randy Taylor Independent Analyst

30 September 2006: The title of the as Sahab production is “Bush, the Pope of the Vatican, Darfur, and the Crusader Wars” featuring the number two in command of al Qaeda, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri. This video was widely distributed on the internet on September 29, 2006.

The video was 17:51 in length, delivered through multiple links in a variety of file sizes with the video packed into .rar files encoded with a password which was supplied with the video.

In light of upcoming elections and the growing division in the population of the United States regarding the War on Terror, the war in Iraq and in Afghanistan, this first portion of the video is aimed at the American people who think that we shouldn’t be fighting the wars in these countries. The latter portion of the video is directed to Muslims with the subject matter of the Pope, the Crusaders aggressions against Islam and the situation in Darfur.

Segment one

The backdrop for the first portion of the video was Ayman al-Zawahiri seated in a dimly lit room with a white with black lettering al Qaeda flag draped on the wall, just above a shelf or console. The console appeared to be perhaps wood and had a black laminate top. On the console were what appeared to be a small flag and flagpole type statue or ornament, probably solid in nature, meaning the flag didn’t appear to be cloth but instead fixed in position. After hours of researching possible candidates for flag type I think it may be a version of a “Jamiat Ulama’a e Islam” flag as it appeared to only have perhaps seven or eight horizontal stripes and didn’t appear to feature a logo of any kind.

Jamiat Ulama’a e Islam

Party Arkat el Mujahideen

The flag is almost gray scale in nature, further suggestive of a fixed statue type. There appears to be some shadowing on the flag which can be mistaken for a symbol, although this possibility cannot be completely discounted. The flag depicted above as the flag of the “Party Arkat el Mujahideen” was reportedly seen years ago in an ABC segment about Pakistanis who had gone to fight alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan, and a picture of this flag was seen on a billboard in Pakistan shown during that segment down in the corner of the billboard. Considering al-Zawahiri’s background with both Pakistani jihadi fighters and the Taliban, this makes sense.

To the right of the flag, on the other side of al-Zawahiri was a small ancient type cannon of no particular significance except that with the video being partially based on the subject of the Pope, one should note that some Catholic priests are referred to as “Canons”. Whether this means anything with regard to this video diatribe by Zawahiri remains to be seen. I am highly skeptical of any theories about hidden messages being delivered by al Qaeda leaders to their followers through the use of highly publicized videos.

To the left, (as one looks at the video) on the console is also a pretty standard CD/DVD storage rack made of chrome corner legs and wooden shelves; to the right stood right a lamp.

Zawahiri is wearing one of his impeccably clean white outfits with a black headdress, with his right ear out and top of left ear neatly tucked under the turban. He is wearing a body microphone with the cord clipped to the outfit. The small growth or mark on his forehead appears to be even more prominent than in the last video. The AK47 which has been a backdrop in most of his videos is absent probably in an effort to soften the image of Islam as this seems to be the theme as of late.

The first portion of the tape contained Zawahiri speaking with English subtitles. The portion of the video presented as such seemed focused on personal verbal attacks on President Bush who Zawahiri repeatedly calls a “charlatan” and a “liar”. His repetitive mentioning of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed appears to be a pointed rebuttal of President Bush’s claim that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was easily broken during interrogation in one of the CIA’s secret prisons. This also indicates that this tape was made very recently as the Presidents comments were the basis of his argument regarding what types of torture should be allowed to obtain information from prisoners.

Another interesting note precisely at 03:53 in the film he states, the statement directed at President Bush, “Why don’t you tell them how many million citizens of America and it’s allies you intend to kill in search of the imaginary victory and in breathless pursuit of the mirage towards which you are driving your peoples sons in order to increase your profits?

He makes note of what he perceives to be victory and a reemergence of the Taliban power in Afghanistan by stating that our troops are retreating from the south and east of Afghanistan and being replaced by NATO troops and this is due to the horror inflicted upon our troops by the elements of al Qaeda and the Taliban forces. He also makes note of the casualties we are taking in Iraq and insinuates that our troops are losing the will to fight and are becoming suicidal and despondent.

At 07:41, Zawahiri makes this statement: “Bush, you deceitful charlatan, you’ve captured Ramzi Yousef, Umar Abd al-Rahman, Wali Khan, Ibn al-Shaykh, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Khalid al-Shaykh, Abu al-Faraj al-Libi, and hundreds of mujahideen and champions of Islam in your war against Islam which you call the “War on Terror” and your agents in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have captured thousands of the youth and soldiers of Islam whom you made to taste and at the hands of your agents various types of punishment and torture.”

He continues with “But we by Allah’s grace are taking revenge on their behalf daily from your troops and the troops of your allies and agents in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula and in all Muslim countries from Indonesia to Morocco, and moreover on your own soil everyday.” This comment indicates that there are activities occurring in the US more so than anyone in the government is revealing. Perhaps tainted food, forest fires, small acts of sabotage, various incidents and random acts of violence by Muslims against American citizens being seen in the news are what he is referring to.

Segment two

At 09:36 in the film the video switches to a different venue with Zawahiri appearing in front of dark cloth like backdrop where he is wearing a white outfit and a white turban. Both ears exposed this time. In the second segment his shoulders appear to be more relaxed and sloped than in the first segment, although this may attributed to what he is sitting on or the fact that he may even be standing.

During this portion and through the remainder of the video there are no English subtitles. In this segment Zawahiri revisits the comments made by Pope Benedict XVI’s against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, brings up the Satanic Verses written by Salmon Rushdie and speaks of the supposed desecration of the Qur’an at Guantanamo Bay and comments on the French Schools banning of the hijab (facial and head covering for Muslim females). He states that the current pope is similar to Pope Urban II, who he claims incited the people of Europe to fight the Muslims during the Crusades.

Zawahiri slams Christianity basing this on what he deems to be superstitious in nature and full of irrationality and contradiction, but also states that Muslims are not enemies of Jesus and Christianity as Pope Urban II had claimed. Commenting on the words of the Pope, Zawahiri says in effect that if Pope Benedict XVI attacked us verbally Islam will respond to his insults with goodness. We will call upon him, and all of the Christians to become Muslims (who do not adhere to the Trinity or the belief that Jesus was crucified) thus indicating a “second invitation to Islam”.

When speaking of Darfur, Zawahiri indicates the existence of a “Crusader” plan to send troops into the region. He calls upon Muslims to defend Darfur against this supposed “aggression” indicating the government is not powerful enough to do this, and jihad is the only way to accomplish this. He calls on the Muslims there to adhere to their religious beliefs and defend Islam.

He concludes his diatribe with some points such as the failure of the leaders of Islamic countries to withstand and defy the “Crusaders” and our “campaigns” in the region. He also states that the sovereignty of Israel and recognition of same must be abandoned and that the “Muslim Nation” as a whole should wage Jihad against the campaigns of the “Crusaders”. He also states that the Islamic nation as a whole should recognize and realize the importance of Iraq and Afghanistan as fronts against the Crusaders aggressions and that all people of Islam should support the Mujahideen in their efforts to defeat the west.

Note:  Graphic of flags are located at which is the most comprehensive site regarding flags that I have seen. Excellent research tool.

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