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A Islamist website posted an audiotape today of a recording by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the first since a Hellfire missile took out at least three of his lieutenants last week. A new tape would have confirmed a miss against the attack's primary target, but the tape contains no references to current events. In fact, the only references made in the tape were to martyrs of the battles that immediately followed 9/11 and from the invasion of Iraq in 2003:
An audiotape from al-Qaida's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri, was posted Friday on an Islamic Web site, but U.S. officials said the recording does not appear to have been made recently and may even date back years.
In the audiotape, al-Zawahri read a poem praising "martyrs of holy war" in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. The tape made no mention of a Jan. 13 U.S. airstrike in Pakistan that was targeting al-Zawahri and killed four al-Qaida leaders. ...
The purported al-Zawahri tape made no statement, and instead the voice on it was heard reading a long poem honoring "martyrs of jihad," or holy war.
He dedicated the poem to "all Muslim brothers everywhere, to the mujahedeen (holy warrior) brothers in Islam's fortified borderlines against the Zionist-Crusader campaign in Palestine and Iraq, Afghanistan and
He said the poem had reminded him of colleagues who died in the jihadist cause, mentioning several by name — but not including any of the figures believed killed in the Pakistan strike.
It would seem that the intent of posting this recording could be to reassure AQ agents that the chief of operations still lives, and that he intends to continue in the fight. It could also just be a random tape that someone wanted to post for its message, its call to martyrdom. However, it could be something else entirely; it could be a eulogy for a martyred leader. The selection of Zawahiri reading a poem of martyred warriors sounds a bit too coincidental, especially given the circumstances of the missile attack.
A quick review: the CIA gets intel that Zawahiri and several high-level AQ leaders will meet to discuss plans for a spring offensive in Afghanistan in a compound in Damadola. In at least two separate attacks, Hellfire missiles blow up three of the buildings in the compound, killing a number of people. At first, the Pakistanis tell the US that all of the dead were civilians, a family of jewelers -- but we find out that at least five bodies got immediately carted away by "foreigners" before anyone could get a chance to see them. We then find out that at least three of the dead were indeed high-level AQ operatives ... who showed up even after Zawahiri decided not to come?
Why would they show up to a planning meeting if the decision-maker had canceled out?
And were the three people identified as having been killed really so important that their bodies could not be left behind for identification?
Now, a couple of weeks afterward, we have a tape of Zawahiri recalling martyrs by name, but not those who died in Damadola, and giving a poetry reading extolling the virtues of martyrdom by referencing battles long since past. It sounds quite a bit like an Islamist giving Zawahiri an opportunity to eulogize himself.Sphere It View blog reactions
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