Al-Qaeda's No. 2 invites questions from fans on web
Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, who co-founded the terrorist group with Osama bin Laden and has a $25 million US bounty on his head, wants to talk to his fans on the web.
Intelligence experts said Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian medical doctor believed to be hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, instructed three al-Qaeda websites to invite jihad (holy war) sympathizers to ask him questions. More than 2,500 questions were submitted.
The questions range from "Why hasn't there been another attack on America?" to "How do I join al-Qaeda?" A would-be volunteer from Britain asks al-Zawahri whether he should go to Iraq or Afghanistan to fight or wage jihad at home.
Ned Moran, who monitors the internet for the Terrorism Research Center in Washington, said al-Zawahri's initiative is a thinly disguised recruiting campaign.
"It would be analogous to a teenager in Canada receiving fan mail from their favourite rock star, engendering a connection that would make them a more devoted follower," he said.
Most of the questions have been from men, but there were a few from women. The theme of their questions was that while they were proud of their husbands who had gone off to fight and die, they'd been left at home with kids feeling useless.
One woman asked al-Zawahri what he thought of creating an all-female brigade.
The websites are no longer accepting submissions, and said the questions are being forwarded to al-Zawahri, whose responses will be posted on the internet soon.