MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Al-Qaida is talking your questions. More than 2,000 of them were posted to a few online message boards set up by al-Qaida's media arm. They'll be answered by Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.
Rita Katz logged on too to analyze the questions. She heads the SITE Intelligence Group in Bethesda, Maryland.
Ms. RITA KATZ (SITE Intelligence Group): Well, I think for the first time we get actually to know what are the issues that bother the jihadists all over the world. So you had questions about where participants wanted to know about the presence of al-Qaida in Palestine. A lot of the questions were questions regarding local jihadi groups. For instance, the jihad in Somalia, Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon, which we heard about last summer, where the main concern was are these groups affiliated with al-Qaida? Does this support al-Qaida? Should we provide them support?
Many interesting questions were about what is the most important thing they should be doing today? For instance, should they leave their own countries and join jihad in Iraq or Afghanistan or Chechnya, or stay in their own countries and carry out attacks there? And to me questions in this line are extremely important because you would like to know what will the answers be from Zawahri, raising questions in that regard.
There was a guy who presented himself to be from the U.K., where he said, is it legitimate for me to carry out attacks in Britain, where I will end up with civilians being killed? Many women...
Ms. KATZ: ...asked questions about what is the role of woman in jihad. Do you have any women in your leadership? Don't tell us their names, but at least would you mention more about the woman role? What should we do? Should we leave our kids home and carry out suicide attacks?
A lot of the questions were about asking Ayman al-Zawahri to respond about these matters. How does he see Hezbollah in Lebanon. How does he view the Shias overall in general?
BRAND: Because, Rita, just to clarify, al-Qaida is not a fan of Iran and they do not like Shia Islam.
Ms. KATZ: Well, that's exactly the questions that the jihadi online is asking. We know that the al-Qaida branch in Iraq is fighting the Shias. However, we don't have a real message coming from al-Qaida leadership in Afghanistan indicating that they should fight the Shia or they should fight Iran. So this is a question that has been a concern to a lot of the jihadists all over the world, trying to understand what bin Laden and the top al-Qaida leadership like Zawahri think about Iran.
BRAND: And what about the United States? What are they saying about a possible terrorist attack against the United States or against Western interests?
Ms. KATZ: Well, a lot of questions were about the United States and why haven't we seen an attack in the United States, and if so, when are we going to see an attack in the United States?
I don't think that Ayman al-Zawahri is going to respond with a strict answer about that. But you could really see that a lot of the jihadi online members can't wait anymore and really looking forward to see the next attack and are trying to understand why they have not seen this coming.
But I'm not sure that Ayman al-Zawahri will respond directly to this question. However, in general he would say that attacks in the U.S. are very welcome. One of the lines of Zawahri that were always in his speeches were, don't wait for al-Qaida to attack. You go ahead and carry out attacks whenever you feel that you are ready. So looking forward again to see how he is going to respond to these questions.
BRAND: Rita Katz is the director of the SITE Intelligence Group in Bethesda, Maryland. Thank you very much.
Ms. KATZ: Thank you.
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