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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Report: Barack Obama's Al Qaida initiative began months before his election

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama was working with Arab intermediaries to establish an unofficial dialogue with Al Qaida long before his election as the 44th U.S. president, according to a report in the Feb. 4 edition of Geostrategy-Direct.com.   

Al Qaida has offered what has been described as a truce in exchange for a U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to the report.

Obama has deemed the U.S. reconciliation with the Muslim world, including Iran, as his main foreign policy goal, sources quoted in the report said. The president has been aided by several Persian Gulf Arab Muslims with ties to Al Qaida's leadership in Pakistan, they said.

On his first day in office, Obama ordered the shutdown of the U.S. Navy prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which where 245 suspected Al Qaida members are detained.

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Subsequently, in his first television interview as president, with the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya satellite channel on Jan. 26, Obama spoke about his own ties to the Muslim world:

"Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect," Obama said . "I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries."

  • Obama's Muslim aura, valid or not, could change geopolitical equation — November 19, 2008
  • "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy — we sometimes make mistakes — we have not been perfect," Obama said.

    The two presidential actions have already prompted calls for reconciliation by a range of leading Muslims. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi called on the United States to launch a dialogue with Al Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden while the Al Qaida-aligned Gamiat Islamiya urged an immediate four-month ceasefire.

    At this point, according to the report, Al Qaida appears divided over Obama.

    "Addressing the Islamic world, Obama said we are in need of a new direction," a statement by Gamiat leaders said. "So he is calling for adopting a new approach that differs to the blocked and irrational path that [former U.S. President George] Bush followed."

    The report also says Obama's initiative has been endorsed by much of the U.S. intelligence community.

    "The United States has imposed attrition on Al Qaida, disrupting its command, control and communications and isolating it," George Friedman, a leading U.S. strategist and director of Stratfor, said in a Stratfor.com report.

    "To avoid penetration by hostile intelligence services, Al Qaida has not recruited new cadres for its primary unit. This makes it very difficult to develop intelligence on Al Qaida, but it also makes it impossible for Al Qaida to replace its losses."

    Still, Saudi Arabia' royalty fears any reconciliation between Al Qaida and the United States. The sources said Saudi King Abdullah worries that Obama's effort would legitimize Al Qaida and bolster its status in the Gulf Arab kingdom.


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