Over the weekend, the second-highest ranking member of al Qaeda called Democrat-led initiatives to end the war symbols of American defeat in Iraq.
In a 67-minute interview released on May 5, known terrorist Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri said legislation to tie war funding with a timetable for withdrawal, “reflects American failure and frustration.”
Last week, President Bush vetoed a bill delivered to him from the Democrat Congress that did this. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D.-Calif.) House has since failed to overturn his veto and now negotiations to proceed appear to be in a stalemate.
Zawahiri lamented that “this bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in this historic trap” but said it proved jihad “is moving from the stage of defeat of the Crusader invaders and their traitorous underlings to the stage of consolidating Mujahid Islamic Emirate.”
Zawahiri said the withdrawal legislation helped to “raise the banner of Jihad as it makes its way through a rugged path of sacrifice.”
A senior government official said it was “stunning” that Zawahiri was watching Congress so closely.
The video was likely encouraged by comments from Democrat leadership. In an April 19 press conference Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) told media, “This war is lost.”
Two days later, in a statement issued from the Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda used Reid’s declaration as evidence of their success. “In the past few days it became clear to every watcher and observer the magnitude of damage that hits the American administration and the defeated declarations of its leaders about the situation in the field in Iraq,” it said. “A serious statement came from ‘Harry Reid’ the Democrat majority leader in the Congress who said: "’the war is in Iraq is hopeless and that the situation in Iraq is similar to Vietnam War.’”
The Vietnam War was ended with the 1973 Foreign Assistance Act that cut funding for operations in the region. The end effect of the Foreign Assistance Act was best captured in a photograph taken by Hubert Van Es that showed hundreds of Vietnamese civilians queuing up for the last American helicopter out of Saigon. Soon, without American troops or any resources to protect the Vietnamese, the Communists took over South Vietnam and millions were killed by the Khmer Rouge communist regime in the power vacuum left by American withdrawal.
Similar actions could be taken by al Qaeda forces, who have failed to hold territory in Iraq and Afghanistan or disrupt American-led political processes there, should U.S. troops withdraw from the region.
Throughout the 2004 presidential election, Democrat candidate Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.) was also quoted by name in communications from Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri.