Al-Qaeda has urged non-Muslims - especially in the US - to convert to Islam, according to a new videotape.
| Gadahn is suspected of running al-Qaeda's propaganda operation|
The call is made by a man identified on the film as "Azzam the American", a convert also known as Adam Gadahn who is wanted for questioning by the FBI.
He says ignorance of Islam leads Westerners to accept wars waged by their governments and Israel against Muslim countries.
The video opens with an introduction by al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Separately, Palestinian militants who held two Fox News journalists hostage for almost two weeks last month vowed to target all non-Muslims who entered the Palestinian territories.
"Any infidel blood will have no sanctity," the Holy Jihad Brigades group said in a statement posted on the internet.
The group, which was previously unknown, had forced the captured journalists to convert to Islam at gunpoint, according to one of the released hostages.
In the al-Qaeda tape posted on an Islamic website, Zawahiri made a brief statement urging viewers to listen carefully to the message, entitled: "An Invitation to Islam".
| The video is introduced by al-Qaeda deputy leader Zawahiri|
The speaker in the new video was identified as Azzam the American and appeared in the video dressed in a turban and seated in front of a computer.
Gadahn is believed by US authorities to be running al-Qaeda's propaganda operation.
He is thought to have appeared with his face covered in a 2004 video shown by ABC News in which the speaker threatened al-Qaeda attacks.
"To Americans and the rest of Christendom we say, either repent [your] misguided ways and enter into the light of truth or keep your poison to yourself," he said in English on the new tape.
"But whatever you do don't attempt to spread your misery and misguidance to our lands," he added.
"Ignorance" of Islam "causes the people of the West to rapturously applaud when Israel perpetrates wholesale slaughter of Muslims in Lebanon and Palestine," he added.
The "Azzam" Threat: A prelude to Future Jihad in America
By Walid Phares
PS: This is a short version posting. The longer version will be posted later.
The video tape issued by al Qaeda's "as-sahhab" production, in which Ayman Zawahiri introduces Jihadist Adam Gahdan to the world as a senior speaker to the American people on behalf of the movement, should be taken seriously. Not necessarily at the level of detecting the next Terror attack but at the level of understanding this prelude to Future Jihad both in America and within the West. I wasn't surprised at all by the 45 minutes elaboration by convert Gahdan regarding all of the issues he raised. For "Azzam al Amrikee" is the clearest specimen of Jihadism's second generation within the US, in as much as the 7/7 videos revealed the type of future Jihadists for Great Britain's second generation. However, when one would listen carefully to the taped video, you'd find a treasure of knowledge and indicators for the current state of thinking of al Qaeda and its ideologues. In short it is a sample of what is on the mind of Salafi Jihadists for the United States and the West. Following are few of the issues I noted:
1) The hand behind the message
In short, Azzam's videotaped message is indeed "American." Experts have heard it in US and Canadian cities and internet is flowing with it. Whether Gadahn was reading from a prompter or not –and I believe he was with great skills- I tend to believe that such a speech –rather than being dismissed as mere propaganda- is a message coming to us from what's already inserted inside America, which leads me to the second point
2) Who is it destined to?
It is basically addressed to those who will carry a "Jihad in America," possibly asserting Adam Gahdan as their leader. Also, this is a very intelligent move to pierce the linguistic shield of America's media and reach US citizens directly, as a way to spread confusion at least among those who have a hazy understanding of the Jihadists.
3) The ideological platform
In short, the "Azzam" video reconfirms clearly, in an English language that academic translators won't be able to distort, that al Qaeda's movement worldwide and in the United States is seeking total annihilation or conversion of the enemy: American and other democracies.
4) Argumentation tactics:
The "speech writer," emulating many commentators on al Jazeera or al Manar, hopes to rally many among those who "hate Bush and Blair" but stops short of stating that Jihadism will hate all future US Presidents and British Prime Ministers "if they do not convert." He reminds us of the Crusades, Inquisition, Hiroshima, and killings in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obviously, the "writer" skips the Genocides of Sudan, and the massacres of Algeria, the Kurds, Shiites perpetrated by Salafists or Baathists.
5) The enemies of Jihad in America
Sensationally but not unexpectedly, he "name" a number of intellectual-enemies in this country: Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson, Robert Spencer and Michael Spencer. Rarely Jihadi Terrorists at this high level media exposure named symbols of their enemy's intelligentsia. And in addition to "experts" named in the tape, Gadahn goes on a ferocious attack against American "Tele-Evangelists" and their media, showing the other type of foes al Qaeda is very upset with.
6) The "friends" of al Qaeda?
"Azzam" names "sympathetic" personalities for whom he has messages for action; He asks journalist Seymour Hirsh to "reveal more" than what was published in a New Yorker article on the War: Obviously an open call by al Qaeda to M Hirsch to resume the attack against the US War on Terror. Then "Azzam" turn to two British journalists and thank them for their "admiration and respect for Islam" encourage them to do the final step: Convert. He names British MP George Galloway and journalist Robert Fisk. But more troubling in Gadahn's tape was his direct call to Jihadists within the US Armed forces to work patiently till the time comes and they should continue to aggregate while escaping the surveillance of their military authorities. This theme, which I covered briefly in Future Jihad, is of great concern to US national security. The "Azzam" speech brings further concerns as to the credibility of this threat.
7) The Al Qaeda offer: Conversion or fire
"Azzam"'s mission in this tape was to deliver a message. His bottom line is this: We –the Jihadists- have you cornered everywhere and you are not going to win this war. His central message is typically Jihadic: "Surrender, convert or the fire:" Meaning war on Earth, all of it, and Hell fire after death.
This fascinating and revealing taped-speech bring the American public even closer to what lays ahead for this generation and the next one as long as the Jihadist ideology is spreading inside America and worldwide.