Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Al-Qaida No. 2 insults Obama

Does anyone else find this story just a bit odd? The concept of "house negro" is a fairly nuanced American insult, and I find it interesting that this purported message not only used the term (in Arabic, no less) but managed to make the make the alleged insult specific in "English subtitles." Americans are mistaken if we assume that messages from Al-Qaida are necessarily what they are said to be. Always, always, always be suspicious about the origin and meaning of these videos. We should ask several questions: what is the origin of the message? Where did it first surface? How do we know that the speaker is who it is claimed to be? Who translated the message? And for this message -- which is claimed to be an audio -- how is it that the report then claims that there are "English subtitles"?

Misinformation is a big part of the intelligence community business. Never assume that such messages are what they are claimed or are from whom they're claimed. While it's always possible that these are from Al-Qaida, it's also possible that someone put them together in Langley, VA, Tel Aviv, Moscow or a dozen other places.

"CAIRO,Egypt (AP) - Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri insulted Barack Obama in the terror group's first reaction to his election, calling him a demeaning racial term implying that the president-elect is a black American who does the bidding of whites. The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites Wednesday, that Obama is "the direct opposite of honorable black Americans" like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader. Al-Zawahri also called Obama—along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice—"house negroes."

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