Ayman al-Zawahiri, the operations chief of al-Qaeda, has released a new audio message produced by as-Sahab Media and distributed online through the al-Fajr Media Center. The message, titled "Annapolis, the Betrayal," is Zawahiri's 13th appearance in 2007 and the 93rd propaganda product released by as-Sahab, al-Qaeda's central media wing, this year.
The 20-minute speech was released as both a Real Media video file, which contained stills of Zawahiri and news photos from the November 27 Middle East peace conference held in Annapolis, and as a MP3 audio file. The still of Zawahiri appears to be taken from an upcoming as-Sahab "interview" video that was announced today. Although some of Zawahiri's speeches have been subtitled in English and Urdu, "Annapolis, the Betrayal" does not carry subtitles, which is not unexpected since the message targets Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa.
Zawahiri's message is strategic in nature and accuses the 16 Arab participants of the Annapolis conference and also the Arab League of betraying Palestine. "The Annapolis meeting was held to turn Palestine into a Jewish state," he says.
"The czar of Washington invited 16 Arab countries... to sit in one room, at one table with the Israelis... (and) witnessed the betrayal deals to sell Palestine." After calling upon Palestinians to not lose sight of the goal "to liberate every inch of Muslim land," Zawahiri turns to Egypt and rails against Sayyed Imam al-Sharif, a leading jihadi militant who last month recanted while in prison. Quoting Malcolm X he states that Islam must be defended against unbelief and then paints the Liberal Islam movement as a creation of the United States. "Those revisionists (including Sayyed Imam)," he says, "are in fact calling for a new American religion that violates God's rules." Finally, Zawahiri discusses Algeria, reminding Algerian listeners that it sent representatives to the Annapolis conference, and then concludes with a shout-out to al-Qaeda's other theaters, including Andalusia, Sebta, Melilla, Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus, Jerusalem, Haifa, Um Rashrash, Baghdad, Kabul, and Kashmir and Grozny."
The message was produced in two file formats, zipped in RAR format and seeded across a total of 221 free file transfer sites on December 13, including cocoshare.cc, megaupload.com, savefile.info, 4filehosting.com, zshare.net, archive.org, rapidshare.com, maxishare.net, upitus.com, picshome.com, fastuploading.com, netload.in, archiv.to, mercuryupload.com, egoshare.com, filefactory.com, badongo.com, primeupload.com, youploadit.com, viprasys.com, and uploadpower.com.
Following standard operational security, the RAR files are protected with the randomly-generated password "sfhh&*(ljfjio$hdflujm@984Hfgldoi$%0s."
Although the audio appears to have been recorded last month, the system stamp on the video itself, however, shows that it was last modified on December 13.
A 50 Hz hum between 17:10 and 18:04 in the recording suggests that Zawahiri was brought back to rerecord part of the speech at a later date and was recorded with a poorly grounded laptop. If this is the case, his speeches are very likely carefully written and edited - and possibly revised by al-Qaeda's media council. Zawahiri's response time to current events has recently decreased to as little as 48 hours, however, there is no mention of the December 11 double-bombing in Algiers in this latest speech. The release also lacks the usual 48-72 hour advance warning given to users on the main jihadi forums. While purely speculative, it is possible that the product's production and release was delayed in order for Zawahiri to rerecord part of the speech.
[Editor's Note: We have begun posting the propaganda from al-Qaeda and others for the primary purpose of informing and educating both the general public and policy makers about the level to which the enemy has actively engaged in Information Warfare. Some of the messages contain graphic content. We at ThreatsWatch post these videos as evidence of the brutal nature of the enemy we face and the clear intent they have to kill those not aligned with them. Making the public aware of the nature of the enemy - as well as the often forgotten virtues of our own nation - is one of the primary missions of ThreatsWatch and the Center for Threat Awareness.]