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    No complete video to review, but some thoughts on Zawahiri's latest video.

    Out of order from the actual report:

    The tape appeared to have been filmed sometime during or after last September as Zawahri referred to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's re-election in that month, as well as Afghanistan's September 18 legislative elections.

    The video showed Zawahri speaking against a white background to an interviewer off-camera who said the interview was to mark the fourth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities -- carried out by al Qaeda.

    There are a couple of reasons that this was filmed in September and we're just now seeing it. My first theory is that these guys are so far and gone in the back and beyond, having to keep moving for the sake of safety and that their network of message movers in the Afghanistan/Pakistan area is so degraded that they simply must take this like by dent of travel and security to get it to a distribution point.

    I feel this is backed up by the fact that his letter to Zarqawi was written in June but didn't get picked up until late August.

    Next comment:

    "Its prince Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may God protect him, is still leading its jihad (holy war)," Zawahri said.

    Now, why would Zawahiri feel the need to re-affirm OBLs leadership role? Keep in mind that Harry Reids latest oops regarding the potential that OBL was dead in the Waziristan area of Pakistan was only a week or so ago and the video was taped in September right as his last letter was making the rounds. I may not recall correctly, but I don't recall much speculation tht OBL was dead in September, usually the reason these guys feel the need to come out and say differently.

    However, what was going on in September and the few months prior to that was that Zarqawi and Zawahiri were exchanging letters and video/audio. Zarqawi was taken to task by Zawahiri about his tactics in the letter and other questions; Zarqawi immediately responded (for him; it was about a week later) stating the letter was a lie and re-asserting that his operational choices were appropriate.

    The Zawahiri letter also gave us very important details about the split within the groups that Zarqawi was attempting to coop, but at the same time he was busy giving them lectures about appropriate Islam, forcing them to live by his Wahabist doctrine when many were Ashari or Maturdi. Basically, he was ticking off the locals and other allies not to mention the Iranians who were getting quite nervous that their 900 lb gorilla on a 2mm wide chain was trying to eat their lap dogs in Iraq. Iran apparently sent a little message in the shape of a horse head in the bed reminding Zawahiri that they still had some folks as "guests" as leverage.

    So, Zawihiri was re-affirming OBL's leadership role, even though OBL himself has not made but one message in the last year for one of two reasons:

    a) Zarqawi keeps making bad choices and thwarting the authority of the central organization. This may be an attempt to reign him back, re-assert ideological control and remind others who are following the great warrior Zarqawi that their true loyalties lie with the Holy War as represented by "Prince" OBL.

    b) Zawahiri's version of the "Wizard of Oz". He's telling people not to look behind the curtain, that the Wizard is before you and he is large and in charge even if you can't physically see him. Which means that OBL is no where near Zawahiri. Before the US bombed them out of Tora Bora, Zawahiri and OBL were want to appear together and now we only see them separately, if we see OBL at all, which has been at least a year. Now, it could be that they are both separately on the run in the Waziristan border and they have done this because their security has been compromised more than once. Sort of like putting the VP in one place and the President in the other in order to insure that governance can continue if one or the other is captured.

    Remember in his letter he talked about al Faraj's take down being a blow to their ability to communicate and receive funds. But, more so, he talked about how al Faraj was taken down which was betrayal by a trusted insider. Of course, there are still 16 leadership elements in Iran, including known parts of OBL's family so I leave open the possibility, as I have in the past, that OBL is in Iran and that is why we and the mujihadeen can't see him.

    Either way, they are separated and for all Zawahiris claims of success for the mujihadeen, the fact that they can't even be near each other for fear of capture is a sure sign of weakness in the group.

    Then we have Zawahiri re-affirming what I have said before and that is that they are no simple ideologues functioning on a purely altruistic or religious construct, but are fully aware of the oil in the region and its importance (see, Al Qaida's war for oil and other things).

    "I call on mujahideen to concentrate their attacks on Muslims' stolen oil, most of the revenues of which go to the enemies of Islam while most of what they leave is seized by the thieves who rule our countries," he said.

    What's interesting about this statement is that, in the beginning they issued directives about saving these resources because the caliphate would need them in the future to pay for operational costs and use as a tool of leverage against all those who need the oil. It shows that these men can change tactics as needed, but it also shows that they recognize the fight is much harder than they expected to set up this caliphate or to damage the US. They thought they could do it while keeping these resources.

    However, I've said before that these are no mean cave dwellers without political and financial savvy. They know how markets and economies work.

    The other tell in the message (though I'd like to see the full statement), is that, once again, as in his letter to Zarqawi, Zawahiri asks for:

    ""I call on Muslims everywhere to support their mujahideen brothers in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine with money, men and prayer ... especially (Muslims) in the countries surrounding these battlefields."

    In other words, recruitment is down, the mujihadeen are not actually winning the glorious war and money is in short supply. It's interesting that Zawahiri who had just been making the plea for money to Zarqawi (and reminding him not to throw away the help they need on pointless discussions about proper Sunni doctrine), decided to skip the middle man and appeal right to the target audience.

    Is that another sign of waning trust or did Zawahiri get the message that Zarqawi was having difficulties getting and moving money?

    Aside from some propaganda about their winning streak and some cheerleading comments for the mujihadeen, there are three other statements that bear some intelligence (I'm sure there will be more when we get the full statement).

    Zawahiri recognizes or states their intentions again for an American withdrawal:

    "The (Iraqi) government is begging Americans not to leave because they know the day Americans leave is the day they are finished."

    He tries to claim the same for Afghanistan, but since he is in Pakistan and the Pakistan army is after him, it rings kind of false:

    "If it wasn't for the Pakistani army's continuous support to Americans, they would have left (Afghanistan) a long time ago and they will leave soon, God willing."

    And then it contains what can only be surmised as either recognition of their involvement in the July 7 bombings or is another threat for another large scale attack:

    Zawahri said Britons had only their government to blame for al Qaeda's suicide bombings in London earlier this year because it had failed to accept a truce offered by bin Laden in exchange for leaving "Islam's homes."

    Those are the basics. Read what little else is available for some more propaganda about how they are winning the war, elections are sinful, yadda, yadda, yadda.

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