CAIRO — Amidst the ongoing debate over the status of Al-Qaeda’s power and influence, the organisation’s Egyptian-born deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahari, is trying to remind people that Al-Qaeda is still a highly active terrorist network.
Al-Zawahari released his second video message within a week on Sept. 28, most of which praised Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban movement who was killed in a missile attack by U.S. forces on Aug. 5.
Al-Zawahari, one of the world's most-wanted extremists, has long been thought to be hiding in the mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan with Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
Although Al-Zawahari spent most of the 28-minute video on Mehsud, he also found time to criticise U.S. President Barack Obama, claiming that Obama has failed to achieve an immediate peaceful settlement in the Middle East. He also criticised NATO member states for their involvement in military operations in Afghanistan, especially Germany and its military units.
Al-Zawahari previously released a 106-minute video on Sept. 23 that marked the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon. In the video, he attacked Arab and American leaders at considerable length.
Despite the release of a string of Al-Qaeda videos in September and Zawahari's malicious messages, international security observers contend that Al-Qaeda has lost much of its previously loyal support base, and that it is facing escalating financial concerns and a growing inability to recruit young, misguided militants. Some also claim that Bin Laden and Al-Zawahari are releasing videos as desperate attempts to recover some of the units loyal to Al-Qaeda.