Last week, al-Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri disparaged Barack Obama in a web broadcast, calling Obama (as well as Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell) a “house Negro.”
This hasn’t sat well with the majority of American Muslims. The Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a statement condemning al-Zawahiri’s “threatening rhetoric and racial slurs,” a prominent imam in Chicago publicly condemned the statements, and imams in New York’s African-American Muslim community slammed the comments as originating from people who have “historically been disconnected from the African-American community generally and Muslim African-Americans in particular.”
The fact that al-Zawahiri’s comments met an angry reception adds to pressure that al-Qaeda is feeling after Obama’s election, which caught worldwide attention (and created worldwide hope). As Clarence Page from the Chicago Tribune notes, “It was a lot easier for the Islamist terror organization to frame the U.S. as a racist, anti-Muslim ’crusader’ nation before we elected a biracial American named Barack Hussein Obama to be our president.”
Since many of Obama’s policies in the Middle East revolve around moving troops from Iraq to Afghanistan and taking a harder stance on Pakistan (both countries with strong al-Qaeda presences), al-Zawahiri is obviously reacting out of panic. Obama’s promises to end the war in Iraq, close Guantanamo Bay, and use more diplomacy in the Muslim world all translate to more international cooperation from the US and less support for al-Qaeda.
Without international support, Al-Qaeda has to draw on localized support, which is also dwindling after political instability and massive casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. With no support, al-Zawahiri (and al-Qaeda) is as good as the lone protester who is sidestepped by the masses on their way to work. Tumbling from a pedestal built out of fear and hopelessness to an ignored street corner is a fall far indeed. No wonder al-Zawahiri is throwing around epithets.