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 media arm, Al-Sahab, announced in December that al-Zawahri would take questions from the public posted on Islamic militant Web sites and would respond “as soon as possible.”
More than 900 entries – many with multiple questions – were posted on the main Islamist Web site until the cutoff date of Jan. 16. After the deadline, the questions disappeared from that site and no answers have yet appeared.
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?
This would be yet another example of how wildly off the mark the image of jihadi terrorism is in the minds of our self-anointed protectors. Clearly there’s a lot more sympathizers than there are actual al-qaeda members, this isn’t the monolithic all-engulfing wave conveniently led by Hitler-in-a-turban that’s so colorfully thrown about within right-wing shouting circles.