Wednesday, December 19, 2007


An NYPD Press Pass will not be necessary for the following News Conference

Al Qaeda firebrand plans Internet chatDecember 18, 2007 United Press International -

Ayman al-Zawahri, the deputy leader of al Qaeda and one of the most hunted men on earth, plans to stage an online interview session in which he will answer questions submitted to jihadi Web sites "by individuals, organizations and all information media outlets," according to the group"s press division. The as-Sahab Foundation, which publishes audio-visual messages from al Qaeda leaders and videos of the group"s terror attacks, announced the plan at the end of a 90-minute TV interview with al-Zawahri released over the weekend.

U.S. officials said this was a new technique for the al Qaeda leader, and further evidence of the growing sophistication of their propaganda operation. "It"s a good PR move by Zawahri," said Jarret Brachman, the director of research at the U.S. Military Academy"s Combating Terrorism Center, comparing it to a Western politician going on MTV. "He"s trying to show he knows where the kids are at." He said it was the first time that al-Zawahri would engage directly with his followers in this way, although al Qaeda leaders in Saudi Arabia have held similar question-and-answer sessions. "You don"t see it nowadays," Mr. Brachman said. "He is trying to revive it."

He said al-Zawahri had previously attempted to address topical issues by answering questions posed by the as-Sahab interviewer, as he did in the lengthy interview released Sunday. Al-Zawahri warned tribal leaders in Iraq cooperating with the U.S. military that they would lose "both their religion and their life" when the United States left the country. "The Americans will soon be departing, God permitting, and won"t keep defending them forever." Al-Zawahri emphasized the importance of what he called "jihadi information media," saying it was "waging an extremely critical battle against the crusader-Zionist enemy."

Al-Zawahri, often referred to as Osama bin Laden"s right-hand man, is thought to have been the brains behind the September 11 attacks on the United States. He is second only to bin Laden on the U.S. list of the world"s most wanted terrorists, with a $25 million reward for information leading to his death or capture.