June 2, 2009— -- Osama bin Laden's top deputy in al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, said in an audio statement released today that President Obama is "not welcome in Egypt" and will be greeted by "Egypt's thieves, occupiers, and criminals."
The message, entitled "The Torturers of Egypt and the Agents of America Welcome Obama," was released by al Qaeda's media arm as-Sahab on extreme Islamic web forums. The nearly 12 minute video was released in Arabic with no subtitles.
"The White House has said Obama is going to Egypt to send a message to the Muslim world," Zawahiri says, "but they forgot that their message was already received by the Muslim world when he visited the wailing wall, and put on a yarmulke, and prayed their [Jewish] prayer, while claiming he is a Christian.
President Obama leaves for a six-day overseas trip today and is set to give a major address to the Muslim world on June 4 in Cairo, Egypt in an effort to improve the U.S.'s image in the Arab world. Obama had previously promised to address the Islamic world during his first 100 days in office.
Also today, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the U.S. government is making great technological efforts to make sure as many people see his speech as possible.
"The Internet team here is working with a host of others to get this information to as many platforms as humanly possible so that people will get a chance all over the world to see what the president has to say," Gibbs said.
Zawahiri has criticized Obama before, mocking him shortly after the President's Jan. 20 inauguration in a message in which he urged Muslims to engage in jihad. Zawahiri's statement then, experts said, was a sign that al Qaeda is nervous about Obama's popularity in the Arab world.
Zawahiri's last statement was released April 19.