Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- The televised message by Al-Qaeda’s second man Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri that was recently aired by the Al-Jazeera Satellite Television Channel, has drawn diverse views by experts and political analysts monitoring Islamic movements. Unlike Al-Zawahiri’s previous addresses, this message was delivered in English, thus bringing to mind his renowned oral argument that he made before Egyptian courts in English at the beginning of the 1980s in the Great Jihad case that followed the death of late Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat. In his latest message, Al-Zawahiri calls for jihad in Pakistan.
Diya Rashwan, an expert in the affairs of fundamentalist groups at the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, considered Al-Zawahiri’s message “ordinary in terms of time and place, taking into consideration that Al-Zawahiri delivers monthly addresses.”
Mamduh Ismail, the lawyer of Islamic groups in Egypt, believes that “Al-Zawahiri’s determination to deliver an address at this time in particular refutes rumors about his death in the most recent raid on the Pakistani-Afghan border that targeted Abu-Khabab.” As for security expert Fuad Allam, former prosecutor of the State Security Intelligence in Egypt, he believes that “Al-Zawahiri is a leader of an invented organization.” He affirmed that “today, the Al-Qaeda Organization does not exist.” He attributed Al-Zawahiri’s appearance to his desire to emphasize in advance his role in toppling Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in the event of his overthrow.”
However, Rashwan added that “The timing of Al-Zawahiri’s message is consistent with his media appearance tactics.” He explained that, “Al-Zawahiri appears almost once every month, and in the past year, he appeared about 10 times. Nevertheless, the rumors that have been circulated by the American CBS news network about him being wounded or killed give his recent message special importance.”
Concerning his use of the English language for the first time to address the public, Rashwan said that “this falls within the framework of the ‘media diversification’ strategy, which Al-Zawahiri constantly seeks to pursue.” For his part, Mamduh Ismail, the lawyer of Islamic groups, said that “this message is a way for Al-Qaeda to prove itself following the painful blows it has been dealt, including the death of Abu-Khabab.” He added that, “These blows have weakened the organization immensely.”
Ismail noted that “Al-Zawahiri spoke in English because he wanted to seize the opportunity to send a quick message to the Pakistani people now that the noose has been tightened on Musharraf, and to deliver an urgent message that cannot wait to be translated into English, which most Pakistanis understand.” He said that “this was not the first time Al-Zawahiri has addressed the public in English.” adding that Al-Zawahiri delivered a lengthy speech in English during his trial in the case of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad in 1981, following the assassination of late Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat.