Obama is a huge problem for Osama


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Obama becomes a problem for Osama

By Yassin Musharbash

For al-Qaida, the election of Obama to US-President changes nothing, leading terrorist al-Sawahiri explained in a video message. But this is not really true: George W. Bush was a perfect concept of the enemy. Conciliable Obama does not fit into their concept.

Berlin -- It's simply: Would September 11th 2001 have taken place if Al Gore instead of George W. Bush had been in office at that time? Yes, of course. And would al-Qaida terrorists planning attacks against US targets cancel their plans, because John McCain lost against Barack Obama? No, not at all.

For al-Qaida, hate against the USA was never dependent on America's leading personnel. That is obvious when reading strategy papers and ideological pamphlets by al-Qaida. In those, the respective US President, regardless of his party affiliation, his platform or policies, is described the "Hubal of our time" or "Pharao of our age". Hubal was an ancient Arabic false god, who, just like the Pharao, is considered the worst adversary of true faith in Muslim history.

Sometimes, as for example in Sawahiri's speech last wednesday, the whole country of the USA is equated with Hubal. What does that mean? That means that ideologically, it doesn't make any difference at all for al-Qaida who is governing in the Oval Office. Because the USA, as leading power of the West, respectively the leading power of infidelity and bigotry in al-Qaida's eyes, the power of anti-Muslim incitement and terror, is necessarily their target. So al-Sawahiri's speech from wednesday is not surprising at all.

George W. Bush, the outgoing President, for example was perfectly suited for al-Qaida's recruitment. Needlessly, Bush himself spoke of a "crusade"; he invaded Iraq with absurd excuses; under his rule, there was Guantanamo, Abu Ghureib and "extralegal renditions". Obama bin Laden could not have thought of a better "Hubal".

Things are different now with Barack Obama. Of course not a single convinced jihadist will abandon his cause just because he has seen Obama's speeches on CNN and now his eyes run wet. But for al-Qaida, those who are already convinced are not most important anyway, strategically, but those who are undecided -- those who become the terrorists' recruits and reinforcements.

Those are the people al-Sawahiri is addressing with his video message. He wants to explain to them that Obama is not better than Bush. The Egyptian al-Qaida ideologue does that on several fields. He paints Obama as a Muslim's son who renounces the faith he was born with. That's the religious level of criticism. He predicts that Obama's strategy to win the War on Terror in Afghanistan with troops from Iraq will fail. That's the political level. And he denounces Obama's declaration of tight bonds to Israel. That's the emotional level. And the interprets Obama's election as sign by the voters that America is about falling already. That is the propaganda level.

Al-Sawahiri has a good reason for his ecompassing attempt to disenchant Obama. Because al-Qaida is in a crisis, which is not an existential crisis yet, but still dangerous: Since about 2005, support for Osama bin Laden and his fellows is decreasing in Muslim countries. It will be even more difficult for them to find new recruits when the new US-President suddenly advances conciliating statements towards the Muslims in the world, when he closes Guantanamo and allows fair trials for the prisoners.

Additionally, al-Qaida has been trying for several years to open new networks and to find supporters in Africa. But in important parts of that continent, Obama is a star because of his Kenian roots.

Even before entering office, Obama has become a bigger problem for Osama than Bush has ever been. While Bush was the pefect US-President for al-Qaida, Obama is the worst for al-Qaida.

For the time being, at least -- and this is important. So far, Obama is a perfect projection screen, but he isn't a pacifist. He already declared he wants to continue US military strikes in Pakistan. He will not suddenly take sides for the Palestinians in the Middle Eastern conflict.

So Sawahiri addresses "the oppressed in the world" at the end of his video message: America has a new face, but its heart filled with hate will remain the same, he says. Such words are supposed to find support, much like the message of "change". And they will find increasing support the more Obama will have to give up his idealism. That's what al-Sawahiri is hoping for. Possible not in vein.