New Zawahri Video Features American

Al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahri released a new video today calling for Americans to convert to Islam. Joining him was an American member of the group, Adam Yehiye Gadahn.

Al-Qaida’s deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri issued a new videotape Saturday along with a man identified as an American member of the terror network, inviting Americans to convert to Islam. The 41-minute video, posted on an Islamic militant Web site nine days before the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, had footage of al-Zawahri and a man the video identified as Adam Yehiye Gadahn, an American who the FBI believes attended al-Qaida training camps in Pakistan and served as an al-Qaida translator.

Gadahn and al-Zawahri did not appear together in the footage but were each featured on a split screen. Both wore white turbans and robes. It was the second time Gadahn has appeared in the same video with al-Zawahri. In a July 7 video marking the one-year anniversary of bombings against the London transit system, Gadahn said no Muslim should “shed tears” for Westerners killed by al-Qaida attacks.

“To the American people and the people of the West in general … God sent his Prophet Muhammad with guidance and the religion of truth … and sent him as a herald,” al-Zawahri said in an introduction to Saturday’s video.

Gadahn spoke with his face uncovered, resembling FBI photos, with his name and nom de guerre — “Azzam the American” — written in titles in Arabic and English next to him. “We invite all Americans and unbelievers to Islam,” Gadahn said, sporting a long, thick black beard with a computer terminal in the background.

It’s interesting that Gadahn now has a recurring role in these tapes. Perhaps they’re trying to broaden their demographic appeal.

One would think, however, that someone other than the group behind the 9/11 attacks would be a more effective messenger for presenting the “convert to Islam” message to an American audience.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Stan Argust says:

    I am sitting here in front of my tv today listening to the news of a video tape released to the public. I would like to take the time to tell those that will try to take away my freedoms will surely meet their doom. I enjoy my freedom and encourage anyone that believes in the Islamic ways that they are following a prophet to change their ways as you are killing the innocent. Some of the people that they have killed are Islamic. Were is the sense in that? They know not what they do only that they kill. Believe that the only way to eternal life is through out Lord God.

  2. Mark says:

    Dave Chappelle is Muslim, but somehow I do not think he would agree to do such a video.

    Islam, bitches is also not a good recruiting line…

  3. jim says:

    Any one have an idea as to why MSNBC treated this as if it were “real” important news? Was it just a slow Saturday? They also made much of the quality of the video and how sophisticated this was. My thought was that terrorists can buy ibooks too.

  4. Bithead says:

    One would think, however, that someone other than the group behind the 9/11 attacks would be a more effective messenger for presenting the “convert to Islam” message to an American audience.

    You go with what you’ve got.

    Also I should make note of the fact that they’re calling this guy an American is laughable, even by hiw own words

    My first seventeen years have been a bit different than the youth experienced by most Americans. I grew up on an extremely rural goat ranch in Western Riverside County, California, where my family raises on average 150 to 200 animals for milk, cheese, and meat. My father is a halal butcher [a butcher who slaughters in an Islamic manner -ed.] and supplies to an Islamic Food Mart a few blocks from the Islamic Center in downtown Los Angeles.

  5. JJ says:

    This is the first Zawahri video that really sent a chill down my spine, yet because of the presence of “Azzam the American”, everyone seems to be taking it as a joke. I read an article recently about the invitation to convert to Islam; it may have been on a link from this very blog. Here is a paragraph from an article by Robert Spencer that sums it up very well:

    “Muhammad instructed his followers to call people to Islam before waging war against them—the warfare would follow from their refusal to accept Islam or to enter the Islamic social order as inferiors, required to pay a special tax (Sahih Muslim 4294). There is therefore a threat in this “invitation” to accept Islam.”

    We laugh off this invitation to convert out of an arrogant refusal to understand the psychology of our enemy. Our enemy, on the other hand, understands our psychology very well

    We have been invited to convert. We will not take the invitation, and we will be attacked. Our enemy will time the attack to manipulate us to act in their own best interest. If the attack happens after the Republicans lose control of congress this fall it will indicate that their interest is to get us out of Iraq. If it happens before the election, it will assure that the Republicans retain control, and that it is in our enemy’s interest that we stay the course.