Al Qaeda #2 Uses Racial Slur

Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Ladin’s deputy, called Barack Obama a “house negro.”

Al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader used a racial epithet to insult Barack Obama in a message posted Wednesday, describing the president-elect in demeaning terms that imply he does the bidding of whites.

The message appeared chiefly aimed at persuading Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies. Ayman al-Zawahri said in the message, which appeared on militant Web sites, that Obama is “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.

In al-Qaida’s first response to Obama’s victory, al-Zawahri also called the president-elect—along with secretaries of state Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice—”house negroes.”

Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term “abeed al-beit,” which literally translates as “house slaves.” But al-Qaida supplied English subtitles of his speech that included the translation as “house negroes.”

The message also includes old footage of speeches by Malcolm X in which he explains the term, saying black slaves who worked in their white masters’ house were more servile than those who worked in the fields. Malcolm X used the term to criticize black leaders he accused of not standing up to whites.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the latest message was just “more despicable comments from a terrorist.”

Despicable, indeed.  Comments like this lead to insensitive behavior.  Shame, shame al Qaeda.

FILED UNDER: Race and Politics, Terrorism, , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. odograph says:

    An attempt to be divisive obviously, perhaps even calculated. It must stick in his craw that Nairobi was once where American Embassies were bombed, and now it’s where they celebrate an American President.

  2. sam says:

    I suspect Obama can live with that.

  3. markm says:

    Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Ladin’s deputy, called Barack Obama a “house negro.”

    Didn’t Belofante say the same thing?..of course not of Obama but wasn’t he talking about Powell?

  4. Andre Kenji says:

    I once saw a cartoon of Colin Powell as a house slave at a Communist/Stalinist of Brazil. But I did not save the image.

  5. Jack says:

    That’s an endorsement from Al Qaeda. Translation: America made the right choice.

  6. Bithead says:

    Heretofore, their comments have been fearful.
    This time, their comments are full of contempt. That doesn’t sound like an endorsement.

  7. anjin-san says:

    Obama’s great personal popularity around the world and the respect our country earned by electing him are bad news for Al Qaeda. We have dealt them a pretty serious setback without firing a shot. Soft power at work…

  8. Floyd says: