Just two days after begging for questions at the end of his last jihadist rant, Ayman al-Zawahiri has decided to flack for interviews. The number-two man in al-Qaeda has put out a request for interviews from journalists, conducted through the Islamist forums that AQ's media arm, al-Sahab, maintains:
Al-Qaida has invited journalists to send questions to its No. 2 figure Ayman al-Zawahri, the first time the terror network has offered an "interview" with one of its top leaders since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
The invitation — issued by Al-Sahab, the group's media arm on an Islamic militant Web site — is the latest in al-Qaida's increasingly sophisticated efforts to get out its message. Al-Sahab has dramatically increased the number of messages it has issued this year, and its videos have shown more complex production.
The statement, first posted Sunday, invites "individuals, agencies and all media" to submit written questions for al-Zawahri by sending them to the Islamic Web forums where Al-Sahab traditionally posts its messages.
Al-Sahab asked the forums to send it the questions "by the letter, with no changes or substitutions, no matter whether they agree or disagree (with the question)."
How desperate has AQ become? While ascendant, they let their actions speak for themselves. They rarely communicated, and never engaged in dialogue. In fact, they seemed too arrogant to answer for their actions, preferring pontification to intellectual defense.
Now, however, they have hit hard times. While relatively safe in Pakistan, they cannot budge NATO in Afghanistan. Their efforts in Iraq have all but collapsed, and the Iraqis no longer buy into their radical jihad, not even the Sunnis who wound up the biggest victims of AQI. Without momentum, they cannot sell the notion that Allah has blessed this enterprise of mass murder, especially since Muslims account for most of their victims since 9/11.
Simply put, Ayman and Osama need some publicity. They need to get more recruits for their murderous enterprises, volunteers stupid enough to commit suicide while the leaders make videos and chat with journalists. No doubt some journalists will oblige them, attempting to discover what makes the terrorist duo tick. If so, they should insist that the first questions will be "What are your exact coordinates?" and "How long will you be there?", and pass the answers along to the US. Maybe this time we'll even do something about it.