Center for Strategic Communication

[ by Charles Cameron — even after death, snakes can bite you — plus a quick look at someone Baghdadi may have termed an “effeminate pilot” ]


For Baghdadi, the Saudis are the head of the snake:

According to Juan Cole:

A voice recording has surfaced, attributed to Ibrahim al-Samarra’i, the leader of the brutal terrorist group Daesh (which the US calls ISIL or ISIS). .. This voice recording may not actually be by the Daesh leader (it has not been authenticated) .. He called Saudi Arabia “the head of the snake.”

To be more precise, the official translation of the passage in question addresses the “sons of al-Haramayn” — the Land of the Two Sanctuaries — and says:

the serpent’s head and the stronghold of the disease are beside you. Thus, draw your swords and break their sheaths.

The full English text reads:

So O sons of al-Haramayn .. O people of tawhid .. O people of wala and bara .. the serpent’s head and the stronghold of the disease are beside you. Thus, draw your swords and break their sheaths. Divorce the Dunya, for there will be no security nor rest for Al Salul and their soldiers after today. There is no place for the mushrikin in the peninsula of Mohammed (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam). Draw your swords.

Interestingly, the same paragraph then describes the order in which three of the Islamic State’s enemies should be attacked:

Deal with the rafidah [Shia] first, wherever you find them, then Al Salul [the House of Saud] and their soldiers before the Crusaders and their bases. Deal with the rafidah, Al Salul, and their soldiers. Dismember their limbs.


For John Brennan, bin Laden was the decapitated snake’s head:

Facing in the opposite direction. John Brennan also used the phrase as Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism in a White House presser of May 2, 2011:

I think the accomplishment that very brave personnel from the United States government were able to realize yesterday is a defining moment in the war against al Qaeda, the war on terrorism, by decapitating the head of the snake known as al Qaeda.


Before there was Brennan, Bin Laden said the US was the head of the snake:

Ali Soufan, in his book Black Banners, p 31, writes:

Bin Laden used the phrase “head of the snake”

— see also JM Berger‘s GI Joe, p 102. And they’re backed up by Chapter 2 of the 9-11 Commission Report:

By 1998, Bin Ladin had a distinctive appeal, as he focused on attacking America. He argued that other extremists, who aimed at local rulers or Israel, did not go far enough.They had not taken on what he called “the head of the snake.”

and that chapter’s footnote 18:

See, e.g., Intelligence report, interrogation of Zubaydah, Oct. 29, 2002; CIA analytic report, “Bin Ladin’s Terrorist Operations: Meticulous and Adaptable,” CTC 00-40017CSH, Nov. 2, 2000.

In CTC 00-40017CSH, Nov. 2, 2000, p 4, we can read:

Bin Laden has characterized the United States as “the head of the snake.”


But to get back to the recent message from al-Baghdadi — he also said:

The Jews and Crusaders are not in need of effeminate pilots from the soldiers of the Gulf rulers, nor are they in need of their planes, the story of their participation in the crusade is just a media farce.

I suspect that’s a swipe at Major Mariam Al Mansouri, whose image appears in the tweet at the top of this post.

FWIW, I personally don’t think “effeminate” is the right word for Maj. Al Mansouri.


And tell me, how many lives hath a snake?

Okay, I’m closing this post with a hint for those of us who can’t resist a good analogy ..

Hey, you gotta love “nature”:

Just because you’ve cut the head off a venomous snake, that doesn’t mean that the snake is done with you. One Santa Cruz homeowner learned that after he decapitated a rattlesnake that wandered into his garage and the head kept on going.

National Geographic has a video of Thomas Scott cornering the snake and then chopping off its head. But it’s what happens afterward that’s strange. The snake’s head, zombie-like, keeps on moving and keeps baring its deadly fangs. According to the segment, a rattlesnake’s head can still deliver a venomous bite up to an hour after it’s been decapitated. Because we didn’t need more reasons to fear snakes.

Here’s the part of the video that National Geographic seems to have omitted — best turn off the sound to avoid the weird “MacDonald’s Farm” soundtrack: