Thursday, December 20, 2007

al-Zawahiri to take questions via email

AQ #2 Ayman al-Zawahiri has invited journalists and others to submit questions via email, the first time he (or anyone else from AQ) has offered an "interview" in more than 6 years.

The invitation comes via Al-Sahab, AQ's media arm, and is posted on various Islamic Web sites. The instructions are to submit your questions thru several Islamic Web forums, and al-Zawahiri will answer them "as much as he is able and at the soonest possible occasion". Whether this means he'll reply via a new video or audio message, Web post, personalized return email, or chiseled on to stone tablets is unclear.

No doubt a large number of funny, funny people will submit penetrating questions like, "Why are you guys such dicks?" or "Does Osama really smell like a goat?". But I'm hopeful some substantive questions will get passed along as well. My own might be something like, "Once you re-establish the Caliphate, what sort of contact would you have with the rest of the world?" or "How is it that Allah, who loves peace, gets behind flying passenger airplanes into crowded office buildings?"

It is a bit surprising to see AQ reaching out to the world, albeit in a very limited way. Obviously, no questions submitted are going to cause al-Zawahiri or anyone else in the AQ hierarchy to rethink their beliefs, and it's not like these guys are open to a free-flowing exchange of ideas. Still, it is an interesting opportunity to learn a bit more about AQ and, perhaps, to find some ammunition in the continuing fight to discredit and, ultimately, get rid of them.

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