Al-Qaeda's second-in-command criticized U.S. president-elect Barack Obama in a new message Wednesday, calling him a demeaning racial term implying that he is a black American who does the bidding of whites.
The message from Ayman al-Zawahri, posted on the internet on Wednesday, appeared chiefly aimed at convincing Muslims and Arabs that Obama does not represent a change in U.S. policies.
Al-Zawahri, the deputy of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, said Obama is "the direct opposite of honourable black Americans" like Malcolm X, the 1960s African-American rights leader.
Al-Zawahri also used the phrase "house Negroes" to describe Obama, as well as the former secretary of state, Colin Powell, and the current one, Condoleezza Rice. Speaking in Arabic, al-Zawahri uses the term "abeed al-beit," which literally translates as "house slaves." But English subtitles of his speech included in the message translate it 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' houses 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.
The 11-minute 23-second video features the audio message by al-Zawahri, who appears only in a still image, along with other images, including one of Obama wearing a Jewish skullcap as he meets with Jewish leaders.
In his speech, al-Zawahri refers to a Nov. 5 U.S. air strike in Afghanistan, meaning the video was made after that date.
Al-Zawahri said Obama's election has not changed American policies he said are aimed at oppressing Muslims and others.
"America has put on a new face, but its heart full of hate, mind drowning in greed, and spirit which spreads evil, murder, repression and despotism continue to be the same as always," al-Zawahri said.
He said Obama's plan to shift troops to Afghanistan while scaling down U.S. military operations in Iraq is doomed to fail, because Afghans will resist.
"Be aware that the dogs of Afghanistan have found the flesh of your soldiers to be delicious, so send thousands after thousands to them," he said.
Al-Zawahri did not threaten specific attacks, but warned Obama that he was "facing a jihadi [holy war] awakening and renaissance which is shaking the pillars of the entire Islamic world; and this is the fact which you and your government and country refuse to recognize and pretend not to see."
He said Obama's victory showed Americans acknowledged that President George W. Bush's policies were a failure and that the result was an "admission of defeat in Iraq."
But Obama's professions of support for Israel during the election campaign "confirmed to the Ummah [Islamic world] that you have chosen a stance of hostility to Islam and Muslims," al-Zawahri said.