Expanding its use of the Internet, al Qaeda now is asking that online users submit their questions -- even "hostile" ones -- to its No. 2 man, Ayman al Zawahri.And like any other blogger, Zawahri says he is prepared to engage. He made the offer on a video posted on a jihadist Web site Sunday touting Britain's withdrawal from Basra as a success for insurgents there.
The almost two-hour long video features Ayman al Zawahri answering questions in front of book-lined shelves from an off-camera interviewer with intermittent video clips. When the interviewer asked which is the most important field al Qaeda fighters are wrestling with, Zawahri answered, "Iraq is the most important of these fields." Zawahri describes the state of resistance fighting in Iraq as "excellent."
At the end of the video, entitled "A Review of Events," a written message invites individuals, organizations and media outlets to submit questions for Zawahri to answer one month from his video's release. The message solicits all questions, "whether they be friendly or hostile."
In the video, Zawahri claimed that there is no such thing as al Qaeda in Iraq, but that various jihadi organizations in "Mesopotamia" have banded together to carry out operations against their enemies.
This latest video comes as British forces relinquished power to Iraqi security forces in the southern Iraqi province of Basra. Zawahri said reports from Iraq point to an American failure in trying to take over the country.
Zawahri also touched on a slew of other issues including Libyan fighters joining the ranks of al Qaeda, the mistakes of the Shiites in cooperating with the Americans in Iraq, Arab dictators, the current situations in Palestine, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran and Afghanistan and the media's handling of bin Laden's audio message releases.
At the end of the interview, Zawahri called for his fighters to "be steadfast, beloved ones, for the advance of jihad is on its way."
This post has been updated.