February 3, 2009 -- Al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has spoken again, this time in a video released today in which he mocks President Obama and urges Muslims to engage in jihad. His speech is a sign, experts say, that al Qaeda is nervous about Obama's popularity in the Arab world.
Obama "stated that he was worried about the killing of civilians in Gaza...We are very grateful for your concern, Mr. Obama. Your concern reached us accompanied by thousands of rockets/shelling and tons of white phosphorous mixed with the blood and tears of the Muslims in Gaza," Zawahiri sarcastically says in an audio speech on the video.
Zawahiri continues: "But it seems like Obama's worry did not last long. In his inauguration speech, he did not mention one word of what happened in Gaza, as if it never happened."
The 17-minute video, titled "Sacrifices of Gaza and Plots," was released by al Qaeda's media arm, as-Sahab, on jihadist web forums. Zawahiri's videos are typically released via these sites. Zawahiri's speech is prefaced with video footage of what appears to be dead children in Gaza.
Al Qaeda is Worried, Expert Says
Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, an ABC News consultant, said Zawahiri's words are further evidence that al Qaeda's leadership is nervous about inroads that the Obama administration may be making in the Arab world.
"I think they're worried about the possibility of Hamas actually coming to the table," said Kiriakou, a possibility, he added, that comes with the new President's Middle East policy.
Zawahiri's tone, too, follows a pattern that is emerging in his tapes, Kiriakou said, explaining that when Zawahiri is "really worried about something, he usually has a very worried or mocking tone."
"After September 11, Zawahiri sounded very defiant," said Kiriakou. "We're not seeing that defiant tone anymore, and I think it's because they're worried."
The video marks the second time Zawahiri has spoken this year. He most recently released a video Jan. 6, in which he threatened the U.S. and vowed revenge for the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza.
"We will never stop until we avenge the death of all who are killed, injured, widowed and orphaned in Palestine and throughout the Islamic world," said Zawahiri. In that video, entitled "The Massacre in Gaza and the Siege of the Traitors," Zawahiri referred directly to then-President elect Obama, saying he had partnered with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whom Zawahiri labels as a traitor to Islam.
Zawahiri Vowed to Carry Out al Qaeda's Threat to U.S.
"What you are facing today is just occupation and settlement that is limited to one area or one country, but is part of a series in the Crusaders war against Islam," said Zawahiri. "These air strikes are a gift from Obama before he takes office, and from Hosni Mubarak, the traitor who is the primary partner in your siege and murder."
To the Palestinians he said: "Be strong and persist in the way of Jihad. The whole Muslim ummah is united with you."
Zawahiri also vowed to carry out al Qaeda's repeated threat that the U.S. will not live in peace until Palestine does.
Today's video is the seventh video released by as-Sahab this year, five of which have referred to the situation in Gaza, according to terrorist watch group IntelCenter.
Habib Battah contributed to this report.