Al Qaeda Ratchets Up Rhetoric in Response to Obama's Outreach to Muslim World

Al Qaeda has not remained silent in the face of President Obama's efforts to shift the tone of the U.S. war on terror and mend fences between the United States and the Muslim world.

In fact, in the seven months since Obama took office, nearly a dozen tapes from Al Qaeda and its affiliates have been released, double the number released in the final seven months of the Bush administration.

Analysts say the jihadists' fear of Obama may not stem from his outreach to the Muslim world as much as it stems from his administration continuing the punishing Predator drone attacks, which targets the Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. A change in administration has not brought, as some had anticipated, a change in this controversial policy.

In Cairo, last month, Obama highlighted his own Muslim roots and embraced Islamic culture in a sweeping address aimed at reaching out to the world's 1.2 billion Muslims and promised during the presidential campaign.

His administration also ordered an end to the use of the phrase "Global War on Terror," a label adopted by the Bush administration shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to a Defense Department memo that cited a preference for the term "Overseas Contingency Operation."

But Obama's efforts have not deterred jihadists. Many of the propaganda tapes feature American citizens as the messengers of hate, including one who operates from his base in East Africa and has become the voice for a radical group linked to Al Qaeda known as Al-Shabaab.

"The only reason we're staying here away from our families, away from the cities, away from, you know, ice, candy bars, all these other things is because we are waiting to meet with the enemy," said the agitator, known as Abu Mansour Al-Amriki, which translates to "the American."

Among the most prominent American messengers of hate is Adam Gadahn, a native of California who warned in a video last month against what he said was Obama's deception.

Yigal Carmon, the Israeli founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute, said the messages are motivated by revenge.

"This ambition to impact the debate in America is a personal vendetta on the society they came from," he said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano expressed concern about Americans spreading propaganda for jihadists.

"While I appreciate the First Amendment, I can say I disagree strongly with Americans participating in efforts,"she said.

But Al-Amriki's call to join the jihad in the recruitment video is not falling on deaf ears. Young men from Minneapolis have travelled to Somali training camps and Amriki appears to be a leader there.

"He seems to be somebody who's actually commanding troops and is really not just trying to inspire new recruits for jihad but is also actually commanding people on the ground," said Tom Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

After Obama's speech in Cairo, Amriki surfaced again, this time in an audio tape where he rejected the president's overtures.

"We cannot and shall not extend our hands," he said. "Rather, we will extend to you our swords until you leave our lands.

"Let this not come as a surprise to those who are mesmerized by Obama's speech in Cairo," he added.