Jihadists appear unsure how to handle the election of Barack Obama. Their messages since Obamaâ€™s election stress their uncertainty and confusion. Some Jihadists want toÂ ignore Obama, others praise the American people, some threaten ObamaÂ to change Bush policies and still others want to convert him to Islam.
In sum, radical Muslims are divided on whether to take a more conciliatory role or use Obamaâ€™s election as an opportunity to exploit.
In a message to Obama, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, head of an Iraqi jihadist group, stated the United States must â€œreturn to your former state of neutrality, withdraw your troops, and return to your homelands.â€Â Yet Al-Baghdadi also asked the members of the new administration to become Muslims. He promised to instruct them as needed.
He probably would not have asked that of John McCain.
The jihadists do not know what to expect from Obama. While giving threats, they also sound unsure. They are particularly unclear how to address Obamaâ€™s race. They do not know whether to exploit Obamaâ€™s African-American heritage or appeal to it.
The Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance warned Obama to hold to his promises of change or they will continue to fight. They told Obama that he won not because Americans were no longer racists but â€œbecause of the many mistakes the Bush administration fell under.â€ Yet they tell Obama that if he makes the right choices he will go down in history as â€œthe courageous one.â€
The jihadists know that Obamaâ€™s election improves Americaâ€™s image in the world. This sudden improvement in the world community is what leaves the jihadists pondering if a hard line or conciliatory position serves their recruiting needs best.
Some, like the Taliban, ignore Obamaâ€™s commitment to reinvigorate American involvement in Afghanistan. That may be combination of propaganda, hopefulness and not understanding what Obama promises.
â€œThe overwhelming victory of Barrack Obama â€¦and his assumption of US presidency reveals the collective willingness of American people not to continue the current despicable and anti-human wars in Afghanistan and Iraq â€” wars that have been launched by W. Bush,â€ stated the Taliban in a November 11 press release.
Other jihadists, like Abu Yahya al-Libi, do not even try to appeal to Obama or American sentiment. After a 13-page religious rant, loaded with quotes from the Koran, one line mercifully sums up the purpose with a plea for God to â€œhumiliate Bush and his party.â€ There is no mention of Obama or much of anything since the seventh century.
Another jihadist, Hamid al-Ali, barely mentions Obama, but takes his race and campaign slogan for change and twists it into a something ordained by God upon the American people.
â€œThe American nation asked for change and got it, after it saw with its own eyes how a group of authoritarian leaders driven by blind discrimination, ignorance, and stupidity transformed everything they had into rubbleâ€¦
â€œGod, however, sent them a person they deeply despise and hate because of his color and his African roots and placed all of them under his commandâ€¦Â Â
â€œWe say this while we confess to the accomplishment of the American nation in creating this change, knowing that we do not expect much from it, except ridding the world of the gang that controlled the White House and owned the most powerful military force in history that filled the world with injustice and oppression. Bush and his gang are finished.â€
That is what all the jihadists agree. They despise Bush and know change is coming. They just have not figured out exactly what it means. More importantly, all are uneasy with Obama and the new image he presents of the United States to the world.