Al Qaeda Offers 'Truce' to President Obama

Video from Ayman al Zawahiri aimed at rebuffing Obama's PR efforts in Mid East.

August 3, 2009, 4:34 PM

August 3, 2009— -- In a newly released video interview, al Qaeda deputy Ayman al Zawahiri extended a truce offer from the terrorist group to President Obama today if the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan.

The video references the President's speech in Cairo in early June, making it at least two months old, and suggesting that despite the U.S. manhunt for the terrorist leader, he is still able to follow current events. Zawahiri, like bin Laden, has a $25M reward for his capture.

Zawahiri said the truce was a continuation of Osama bin Laden's 2006 offer to President George W. Bush, which required that U.S. forces leave Afghanistan as well as all Muslim countries in the Middle East. Al Qaeda has often offered truces before launching an attack.

In the video, bin Laden's deputy is made to look scholarly in a white turban and white robe, sitting in front of a large bookcase filled with Islamic texts background. Zawahiri appeared healthy, gesturing often with his arms.

The 90-minute video was released by al Sahab, al Qaeda's propaganda division. Much of the interview revolves around the war in Afghanistan and attempts to rebut President Obama's recent speeches and interviews addressed to the Muslim world. That he spends so much time refuting President Obama's efforts to remake the Islamic world's image of the U.S. suggests al Qaeda is concerned with how successful Obama has been in his effort.

Former CIA Counterterrorism chief Robert Grenier told ABC News that the video "highlights the fact that al Qaeda feels threatened by Obama's recent efforts" to improve America's image in the Muslim world. Recent polls have shown that after Obama's PR campaign throughout the Middle East, perception of U.S. foreign policy has improved.

Zawahiri spends much of the video denouncing U.S. foreign policy and stressing to Muslims that the jihad is a result of American aggression. Grenier points out that Zawahiri has frequently tried to sell al Qaeda as reacting to U.S. actions, not provoking.

Zawahiri also declares that the War in Afghanistan is over. "What's happening in Afghanistan is a lesson, which the Moslem world should learn," he said. "American forces have been defeated by the Taliban."

Zawahiri Video

Grenier said that al Qaeda is "quite sincere when they make these offers." If the U.S. were to give up their efforts in the Middle East, Grenier saidd, al Qaeda would claim victory. "It's not realistic, but it is sincere."

"This latest message from Zawahiri recycles many of the same themes he's used in the past," a U.S. counterterrorism official told ABC News. "If he's paying attention to what he reads - and he seems to keep up to speed on what's going on in the world - surely he must understand that al Qaeda is feeling pressured at the moment, and that many prominent Muslim voices have increasingly criticized al-Qaeda's ideology and terrorist tactics."

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