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BERLIN, Nov. 19 — Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command used a racially demeaning term to refer to President-elect Barack Obama in a videotape released Wednesday, and said Obama’s election represented “the American people’s admission of defeat in Iraq.”

In the 11-minute video, posted on the Internet, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, repeatedly and unfavorably compared the first black U.S. president-elect to Malcolm X, the black Muslim leader and activist who was assassinated 43 years ago.

“You represent the direct opposite of honorable black Americans like Malik al-Shabazz, or Malcolm X,” Zawahiri said, according to English subtitles of his Arabic remarks provided by al-Qaeda’s propaganda arm. “You were born to a Muslim father, but you chose to stand in the ranks of the enemies of the Muslims, and pray the prayer of the Jews, although you claim to be Christian, in order to climb the rungs of leadership in America.”

Zawahiri said Obama, Colin Powell and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “confirmed” Malcolm X’s definition of a “house negro,” a term the militant black leader often used to describe black leaders who were subservient to white interests.

The biting comments were the first time al-Qaeda’s leadership has reacted publicly to Obama’s election since he defeated Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) two weeks ago. Some analysts said the delayed response reflected uncertainty within al-Qaeda’s ranks over how to respond, given that Obama is widely seen in the Muslim world as the mirror opposite of the group’s longtime archenemy, President Bush.

“Zawahiri and others in al-Qaeda recognize that Obama has a certain appeal, not just to Americans but to people in the developing world,” said Evan F. Kohlmann, a terrorism analyst and senior investigator for the Nine/Eleven Finding Answers Foundation. “They feel a need to dampen this sense and enthusiasm and excitement for Obama.”

Zawahiri, 57, an Egyptian physician, is the second-ranking leader of al-Qaeda, behind only Osama bin Laden. According to U.S. intelligence officials, he is believed to be hiding somewhere in Pakistan. He has distributed dozens of video and audio recordings in recent years, eluding capture despite a $25 million reward offer posted by the U.S. government.

In Wednesday’s video recording, Zawahiri welcomed the pending withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq but warned Obama not to send additional forces to Afghanistan, as the president-elect has pledged to do.

“If you still want to be stubborn about America’s failure in Afghanistan, then remember the fate of Bush and Pervez Musharraf, and the fate of the Soviets and British before them,” Zawahiri said, referring to the former president of Pakistan, who resigned under pressure this year. “And be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them.”

The video consisted of an audio recording of Zawahiri’s remarks in Arabic, with English subtitles scrolling underneath a still photo of the bespectacled doctor, dressed in white in front of a bookcase.

On the tape, Zawahiri is flanked by two separate photographs of Obama and Malcolm X. In his picture, Obama is wearing a skullcap and surrounded by Jewish leaders as he visits the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. Malcolm X is shown on his knees, praying in a mosque.

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A U.S. newspaper says President-elect Barack Obama is considering a more regional approach to the war in Afghanistan that could include talks with Iran.

The Washington Post Tuesday cites unnamed national security advisers to Mr. Obama, who also say he intends to deploy thousands more U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden Message

The newspaper also reports Mr. Obama plans to intensify the search for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who is widely blamed for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The Post quotes one of Mr. Obama’s advisers as saying bin Laden is America’s enemy and should be its principal target.

Mr. Obama has pledged to end the war in Iraq, and defeat al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Post quotes a senior U.S. military official explaining mainly-Shi’ite Iran’s interest in cooperating as saying Iran does not want “Sunni extremists in charge of Afghanistan any more than” the U.S. does.

Source: VOA News

John McCain gives a thumbs-up to supporters before a speech at a Republican rally

According to Time, McCain campaign staffers in Virginia are teaching volunteers to see Barack Obama as having terrorist ‘friends,’ and then providing these volunteers with arguments for persuading voters that Sen. Obama, like Osama Bin Laden, shares responsibility for bombings of the Pentagon.

The report from inside the McCain campaign brings to light an alarming fact: while McCain tells his supporters publicly to refrain from violent rhetoric, he continues to teach his volunteers rhetoric designed to elicit violent responses.

In the article, Time’s Karen Tumulty recounts her visit to a campaign training session in Gainesville, VA, a strategic center for the McCain ground game in Prince William County. What Tumulty describes is a training session hosted by by Virginia’s state GOP Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick in which volunteers were being trained to see Barack Obama as a terrorist. Tumulty writes:

    The McCain campaign invited me to visit Frederick and the Gainesville operation on Saturday morning, to get a first-hand glimpse of its ground game in Prince William County, Virginia, a fast-growing area about 30 miles from Washington, D.C.With so much at stake, and time running short, Frederick did not feel he had the luxury of subtlety. He climbed atop a folding chair to give 30 campaign volunteers who were about to go canvassing door to door their talking points — for instance, the connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden: “Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon,” he said. “That is scary.” It is also not exactly true — though that distorted reference to Obama’s controversial association with William Ayers, a former 60s radical, was enough to get the volunteers stoked. “And he won’t salute the flag,” one woman added, repeating another myth about Obama. She was quickly topped by a man who called out, “We don’t even know where Senator Obama was really born.” Actually, we do; it’s Hawaii. (link)
Obama birth certificate - click to enlarge

Obama birth certificate - click to enlarge

The report from inside the McCain campaign is disturbing on several levels. While McCain has begun chiding his supporters at public rallies for using violent rhetoric, his campaign has taken the opposite tack behind closed doors. Despite the public image of a campaign not responsible for the violent outbursts of a few followers, the Time report reveals a ground operation actually training its volunteers to elicit violent responses in voters–specifically by making false claims about Barack Obama’s connection to terrorist attacks on U.S. military buildings.

The report confirms that the McCain campaign has staked its chances of winning the Presidency on convincing the public that Barack Obama is on the wrong side of the ‘War on Terror’ and, therefore, his victory in the Presidential election would put the power of the White House in the hands of terrorists.

When supporters of a Presidential candidate view the opposing candidate as merely an election threat, they call for his defeat. But when they view the opposing candidate as a national security threat–as they are being taught by the McCain campaign–they call for that threat to be eradicated.

Tumulty’s report raises serious questions about whether or not John McCain is using campaign rhetoric that not only depart from recognized moral boundaries, but risk igniting actual violence.

In particular, by teaching his volunteers to see Barack Obama as similar to Osama Bin Laden–and by training his volunteers to convince voters of the same–McCain is using his presidential campaign to tie Sen. Obama to the mass murders of September 11, 2001. In this way, McCain is effectively teaching his supporters to believe that Sen. Obama is not only connected to terrorists, but that Sen. Obama deserves the same punishment as terrorists.

In other words, by bringing to light the rhetoric being taught to his campaign volunteers, Time Magazine has provided the explanation for why attendees at McCain and Palin rallies have called for the death of Sen. Obama rather than just his defeat, which would be the norm in such events. When supporters of a Presidential candidate view the opposing candidate as merely an election threat, they call for his defeat. But when they view the opposing candidate as a national security threat–as they are being taught by the McCain campaign–they call for that threat to be eradicated.

Source: HP, TIME, BirthCert PolitiFact