Al Qaeda Split Over Obama Overtures

A source in al Qaeda’s inner circle tells Al Jazeera that hardliners oppose Osama bin Laden’s decision to alter the organization’s tactics in response to President Barack Obama’s overtures to the Muslim world.

“Mahmoud,” one of the dissenters, provided Al Jazeera an audio tape containing portions of a recent conversation between Bin Laden and his second-in-command, Aimen Zawaheri, that purportedly took place in Pakistan’s tribal no-go area:

BIN LADEN: I’m worried, Aimen. With Obama in charge, Guantanamo closing, coerced interrogations forbidden, and now Miranda rights, for Allah’s sake, (Blessed be his holy name), some of our people hiding in caves are surrendering so they can live like kings in American prisons.

ZAWAHERI: Other side of the coin: recruitments are up at the prospect of winding up in America. Look, let’s use the situation to our advantage: make up a list of people who haven’t been pulling their weight in Jihad, and arrange to have them captured by the Americans. I’ll reach out to Ramsey Clark and offer him a contract to represent them in American courts. He’ll tie up their judicial system for years, the legal equivalent of bringing down the towers.

BIN LADEN: Good thinking. In terms of world opinion and our own image, it might be a good idea to modify our own activities a bit. What’s the schedule for July and August in Iraq and Afghanistan?

ZAWAHERI: Thirty suicide bombers set to go–markets, schoolyards, orphanages, recruiting centers, so forth.

BIN LADEN: Take orphanages off the list. Set up wedding parties for the Americans to bomb. Let them be the barbarians.

ZAWAHERI: Oh, I had a conference call with Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Jack Murtha the other day. Things didn’t work out for us, but they’ve been wonderful all along. Let’s consider them for honorary membership in AQ. That entitles them to be beheaded with a sharp knife rather than a dull one when we’ve won.

BIN LADEN: Allah is merciful.

“Mahmoud” warned that Bin Laden risked the very existence of al Qaeda if he decided to follow the path of “Jihad Lite.”

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