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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Anwar Al-Awlaki Video Release Rehashes 2010 "Message To America"


Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has released a tribute to Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan that contains a video recording with an extended version of a previously released Awlaki audio.

The video is titled, "Anwar Awlaki, the Martyr of Dawah," a clear effort to continue the argument that Awlaki was killed not for his role in terrorist operations but for his Islamic preaching. Released by AQAP's Malahem Media, the video features very strong production values and English subtitles as well as English audio.

A 15-minute video is presented featuring Awlaki in a camouflage jacket with an Al Qaeda flag in the background. The content of the video is an early draft of Awlaki's March 2010 "Message to the American People." It includes additional material and rearranges several parts of the speech.

Several news reports and an initial posting on this site identified the footage as being new, or as a "final message" from Awlaki, which is incorrect. The video was recorded in early 2010.

A comparison of the original audio and the new video reveals they are separate recordings, indicating that Awlaki almost certainly recorded the video first then edited the speech and recorded the audio. The audio release is considerably improved from the video, providing a rare insight into Awlaki's editing process.

The release of this dated video raises questions about whether AQAP still has any unreleased Awlaki material available. Prior to his death in September, AQAP's Inspire magazine promised that at least two recorded communiques from Awlaki were forthcoming. Media reports from Yemen, which could not be confirmed, suggested that some of this material had already been recorded.

Today's release also includes snippets of previously unseen video of Awlaki speaking in Arabic. This observer did not recognize the content as having been released in the past, but given Awlaki's voluminous output, it may also be old material. In the clips, Awlaki discusses the virtues of martyrdom, especially in the context of AQAP's jihad.

The video includes a tribute to Awlaki from AQAP religious authority Ibrahim Al-Rubaish. Rubaish stated that Awlaki left the United States because of "plotting" by American authorities due to his belief that America was waging war on Islam, but neither Awlaki nor Rubaish discusses Awlaki's links to the September 11 attacks.

The video also features an English speaker identified as Abu Yazeed discussing Awlaki's message and impact. Yazeed also praises Samir Khan, Al Qaeda's American propagandist and the creator of Inspire Magazine.

This post has been updated.

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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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