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Zawahiri: A Review of Events

The As-Sahab Foundation, which represents al-Qaeda's media wing, released its 94th video in 2007 on December 16, an interview with Ayman al-Zawahiri called "A Review of Events: As-Sahab's Fourth Interview with Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri." The video, which lasts one hour and 37 minutes, is Zawahiri's 14th appearance this year and consists of a question and answer session between the group's operations chief and an off-camera producer. Subtitled in English, the video is a strategic PSYOP product meant to frame recent global events into al-Qaeda's narrative and ensure that the narrative carries down to the rank and file. Although Arabic remains the lingua franca of al-Qaeda, an effort is underway among its members to maintain English-language forums and to distribute propaganda products in English.

As-Sahab and its distribution network, al-Fajr Media Center, have also announced preparations for a virtual "town hall meeting" with Zawahiri and are inviting users of the five major jihadi Web forums to submit questions over the next month for him to answer.

Promotional banner for the upcoming virtual townhall meeting with Zawahiri

"A Review of Events" was released in 3 different file formats and 5 file sizes, zipped as a compressed and password-protected RAR file, and seeded across 445 free file transfer sites. Timestamps on some of the sites indicate that the videos were uploaded on the morning of December 16 using a free service provided by mirrorit.de that facilitates 3 simultaneous uploads at once. Interestingly, the system timestamp on the videos indicate that they were created between 5:00 and 6:30 am EDT on December 16, which suggests that the files were outputted quickly from a single computer using a single master file.

Following standard operational security, the RAR files are protected with the randomly-generated password "T<xP>)5(Dp)Z2L}p5s^dD$1z)(&kFwe7Y3OI(*&ew343hT."

File Names Format Size (MB) Seeds
S5.rar MPEG 1.13 GB 18
Sa.rar, Sa2.rar, Sa4.rar RM 244 98
Sm.rar, sm0.rar, sm1.rar, sm2.rar RM 34.7 133
Sg.rar, Sg0.rar, Sg1.rar 3GP 32.4 81
Ss.rar, Ss_1.rar, Ss_2.rar, Ss_3.rar RM (audio only) 7.8 115

The video features segments of narrated B-roll, including clips from Ansar al-Sunnah (now called Ansar al-Islam), al-Furqan Media, and Western documentaries and news programs. Based on an analysis of the video, the segues were produced after the original interview had been recorded and already subtitled.

Zawahiri hits a number of topics: Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Algeria, Egypt and Pakistan. He begins by calling the Mujahideen the "Muslim vanguard" of the Ummah and that it is leading to a "Jihadi awakening" and unification, which the recent merger between al-Qaeda and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group shows. He spends a great deal of time discussing Iraq and the major controversies that have plagued the Web forums since October: success of the Sunni Awakening movements in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq's loss of momentum, and al-Jazeera's coverage of Usama bin Laden's October message that criticized the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). He says that ISI's loss of momentum is "empty propaganda" and applauds at length the efforts of "the unknown soldiers of Jihadi media" for "demolishing the myths and fantasies" of the West. Nevertheless, he suggests that the ISI is indeed in trouble by discussing at length the reasons why Sunni militant groups in Iraq should cooperate with it.

"(A)ll the Mujahid brothers in Iraq, who are the hope and pride of the Ummah, must develop what their brothers arrived at an complete and finish it, and not allow it to be detracted from, criticized or mocked," he states. "They know that the Islamic State of Iraq is the primary force involved in confronting the Crusader-Zionist aggression against Iraq, and this demands that they cooperate with it, guide it and be honest with it like a concerned and sympathetic brother. In the same way, our beloved brothers in the Islamic State of Iraq (may Allah help and protect it and grant it victory) must open their hearts to their brothers, and rush to them and be concerned for them, and everyone must humble themselves before their believing brothers."

Most interestingly, he calls upon the Iraqi Sunni militia Ansar al-Sunnah, which changed its name to Ansar al-Islam on December 7, to join the ISI, calling Ansar members "the lions of Islam in Iraq." Ansar al-Islam products, including a video and a communique, have recently appeared with top-billing on the major Jihadi Web sites - an honor reserved primarily for as-Sahab, al-Furqan and al-Fajr products.

As-Sahab's banner: A Review of Events.

[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.]

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The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 12/18/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.