Center for Strategic Communication

by Steven R. Corman

Adam Gadahn in mid-rant

Adam Gadahn in mid-rant

Jarret Brachman just did a post on a new video by nice-Jewish-boy-turned-AQ-mouthpiece Adam Gadahn (a.k.a Azzam al-Amriki, video linked on Jarret’s site). Jarret points out that this is the first video in a good long while from as-Sahab, and it has notably lower production values than its normal fare.  But to me the most significant thing is the subject matter of the video.  I, with the help of Jeff Halverson, produced a transcript of the video that you can find here.

Gadahn devotes at least half his time to a refutation of claims that the mujahideen are conducting attacks that are killing innocent Muslims:

we have also begun to see an increase in random bombings and attacks that target innocent Muslims, often in  known centers of support for the mujahideen.  These criminal acts usually result in large number of casualties, especially among women and children.  And invariably the enemies of Islam and Muslims pin the blame for them on the mujahideen. The mujahideen’s denials of responsibility fall on deaf ears.

He goes on at length arguing that the mujahideen are the true vanguard of the Muslims, and that it would just make no sense for them to kill the people they are trying to save:

But I ask every intelligent and thoughtful Muslim to ask himself: Who are the likelier culprits in such brutal, heartless, and unjust attacks?  Are they the mujahideen who have sacrificed everything to defend and liberate weak and oppressed Muslim peoples, uh, wherever they might be, and who have dedicated their very lives to the implementation of Islam and its Sharia which forbids the taking of even one innocent life?

The best explanation for Gadahn’s rather desperate defensiveness is that the killing of innocent Muslims is turning popular sentiment against the extremists in SW Asia.  The recent suicide bombing of a mosque in Rawalpindi, Pakinstan (one of s string of such attacks in recent months) was especially horrific.  A former Pakistani military official expressed his outrage in a BBC interview on December 4, saying that if this incident does not unite Pakistan against the extremists, nothing will.  Perhaps it was indeed some kind of tipping point that resulted in the apparently hasty production of the rant by Gadahn.

Faced with momentum turing against his cause, Gadahn does what any politician does when the wheels start to come off his campaign:  Blame the media.

the uncorroborated allegations of the regimes are carried without criticism and in a one-sided way by the so-called independent media in Islamabad, Kabul, and other world capitals.  Why?  Because these media are now willing weapons of propaganda in the pockets of the crusaders and their puppet governments and armies allied with them.

Not only do these immoral and biased media organizations shamelessly slander the Mujahideen, they also conspire with the regimes to cover up the true extent of the losses suffered by the apostate puppets of the crusaders and even describe those killed as martyrs.

But it’s hard to make that argument stick when mujahideen forces are directly claiming responsibility for attacks, as they did for the Rawalpindi bombing.

Could it be that some rogue elements are doing the killing, rather than people associated with Gadahn?  If so then we are at a loss to explain why Gadahn spends the second half of his speech rattling-off Taliban talking points against the Pakistani government:

The corrupt puppet armies and the affiliated intelligence agencies who fight and kill their own populaces and displace them and leave them homeless for a few billion dollars of crusader bribes, they aren’t your friends and protectors. The atheistic, uh, ethnic and tribal nationalists who murder their own learned men (Alam) to advance their evil ideologies and please their polytheist-idolater (mushrik) patrons and paymasters, they aren’t your friends and protectors. The apostate secular regimes who oppress, rob, and imprison you and sell-out the sovereignty of your countries for personal profit, they aren’t your friends and protectors.

And anyway the record of Gadahn’s outfit with respect to killing Muslims is pretty clear.  As Helfstein, Abdullah, and al-Obaidi point out in a just-released study based on non-Western media sources:

The results show that non-Westerners are much more likely to be killed in an al-Qa’ida attack. From 2004 to 2008, only 15% percent of the 3,010 victims were Western. During the most recent period studied the numbers skew even further. From 2006 to 2008, only 2% (12 of 661 victims) are from the West, and the remaining 98% are inhabitants of countries with Muslim majorities.

Finally we have the fact that Gadahn directly contradicts himself in the video.  At one point he says “the mujahideen declare themselves innocent of these attacks” that have killed innocent Muslims.  But in the next breath he says “we also express the same [condolences] to the unintended Muslim victims of the mujahideen’s operations.”  Adam, if you expect your audience to believe your comrades didn’t intend to kill innocent worshipers in Rawalpindi when they detonated a suicide vest, then threw grenades and sprayed the place with machine gun fire, then it’s time to cut way back on the hashish, m’kay?

So the good news is that this video seems to confirm that the Bad Guys have opened up a say-do gap of stupendous proportions.  We here in the US know what a pesky problem that can be, and our say-do problems are nothing compared to murdering the very people you claim to represent and protect–while they’re at worship.  It’s going to take a lot more than a video to close that gap.

That said, I have to add that I’m a bit baffled as to whom as-Sahab conceives of as the audience for this video.  It’s produced in English and contains no foreign language subtitles or voice-over (unless there are other versions that have it).  Based on that you would think his audience would be the English speaking world.  Yet everything Gadahn says seems to be aimed at people in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.  Previous videos by Gadahn seemed clearly targeted at a Western audience, even addressing them directly.  It made sense that AQ would use an American traitor to deliver such messages.  But why they would choose him as the messenger for this message is a mystery to me.

UPDATE 12/13

Re that last paragraph, mystery solved.  See Aaron’s comment below.

UPDATE 12/15

Leah Farrell concurs that this video shows that the AQ media wing has seen better days:  “If ever one needed proof that As Sahaab is going down the tubes here it is.”