Al-Qaida is reaching out and soliciting questions online – approximately 900, but no answers as of yet. According to Lee Keath, Associated Press:
Sympathizers submitted hundreds of questions to al-Qaida deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri’s “on-line interview” before a recent deadline. Among them: Why hasn’t al-Qaida attacked the U.S. again, why isn’t it attacking the Israelis and when will it be more active in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria? So far, there have been no answers.
Al-Qaida’s use of the Internet is nothing new. In fact, Islamic militant websites have been a primary source of communication due to the aggressive and effective allied efforts to break up terrorist cells and thwart their violent activites.
From the tone of the questions, it appears as if supporters are confused, disorganized, worried about al-Qaida’s future and sense that the end of the terror network is nearing – thankfully!
One thing is clear from the questions: Self-proclaimed al-Qaida supporters are as much in the dark about the terror network’s operations and intentions as Western analysts and intelligence agencies.
Some of those posting questions sound worried: Does al-Qaida have a long-term strategy?
One, allegedly a former Arab al-Qaida fighter in Iraq, complained about Iraqi fighters discriminating against non-Iraqi mujahedeen.
Others wanted advice: Should followers be focusing their jihad, or holy war, against Arab regimes, or against Americans?
Like many in the West, the questioners appear uncertain whether al-Qaida’s central leadership directly controls the multiple, small militant groups around the Mideast that work in its name, or whether those groups operate on their own.
This online forum technique should be familiar to most Americans since news sites and blogs have offered similar venues for such conversations since the late 1990s.
The White House has hosted online chats with public officials since April 2003 via “Ask the White House.” Guests have inlcuded Cabinet members, senior administration officials and White House staff. President Bush answered questions aboard Air Force One after his January 2008 visit to the Middle East to demonstrate the U.S. committment to helping Israel and the Palestinians achieve peace.
Peace and security for the Middle East? Sounds like an admirable goal.
So, I have a question for al-Qaida. If you don’t want peace or a secure and brighter future for your people, what exactly are you figthing for?
Al-Qaida responds (AP – 1/25/08)