Airing Faisal Shahzad's martyrdom video may be an attempt to boost the standing of the Pakistani Taliban by showing off its ability to attack inside the US.
Al-Arabiya via AP Television Network/AP Photo
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Dubai-based satellite network Al Arabiya aired portions of a martyrdom video made by failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad on Wednesday. Shahzad is shown climbing through the mountains of Pakistan with Taliban leaders and vowing to attack the United States to avenge the death of “Muslim Arabs.”
Tapes like these are usually meant to send a political message. Analysts say the Taliban may be trying to boost its standing by showing off Shahzad as proof that it can strike within the United States – even though he failed in his mission. It remains unclear why the Taliban initially disavowed any connection to Shahzad.
Evan Kohlman, an analyst at globalterroralert.com, a terrorism analysis firm, told the Associated Press that a video like this "can significantly prolong the visceral impact of even an unsuccessful operation."
Shahzad speaks haltingly on the video as he explains his rationale for the attempted May 1 car bombing in Times Square. He calls jihad a central pillar of the Islamic faith and says his attack will specifically take “revenge” for the deaths of “oppressed” militant leaders Abu Musab Al Zarqawi in Iraq and Beitullah Mehsud in Pakistan. Shahzad plead guilty in June to the attempted attack.
The video shows him bearded, wearing a turban and dark vest, and holding an AK-47 at his side and what appears to be a small Koran in his lap. It is a far cry from the picture that usually accompanies Shahzad in the media: clean cut, goateed, and jokingly referred to on Saturday Night Live as Mohamed al Corey Feldman.
Shahzad's video was aired in segments on Wednesday and also made available on Al Arabiya’s Youtube page. Shahzad says:
Insha’allah eight years has passed by in Afghanistan and you’ll see that the Muslim war has just started and we’ll tell you how, how, until Islam spread all over the world.
The other point is that this, this attack on the United States will also be revenge attack for all Mujahideen and Muhajireen and the weak and oppressed people of Muslims such as Beitullah Emir Shaheed and Abu Musab al Zarqawi and all the Muslim Arab that have been martyred. I will take revenge on their behalf insha’allah and I really wish that the hearts of the Muslims will be pleased with this attack.
Islam is coming to the world insha’allah and Islam will be spread over the whole world and democracy will be defeated and so was communism defeated and all the other isms and schisms will be defeated and the word of Allah will be supreme insha’allah. And Muslims are gonna do that.
Shahzad’s rhetoric mirrors his statements in court when he pled guilty in June to using a weapon of mass destruction. As the Monitor previously reported, he told Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum that he was a “Muslim soldier.”
"It's a war. I am part of the answer to the US terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people," he said.
Asked whether he was certain he wanted to plead guilty, Shahzad said he wanted to plead guilty 100 times more, and warned that if the United States did not leave Iraq and Afghanistan, "we will be attacking [the] US."
The video may be an attempt to bolster the reputation of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud as well. He is a former deputy to Beitullah Mehsud and took over the Pakistani Taliban following Beitullah's August 2009 death. The Associated Press reports that Shahzad is seen shaking Mehsud’s hand in the video, which bears the imprint of Umar Media, the Taliban’s media arm.
Al Arabiya claims that the full tape, which has yet to be aired, also shows a longer meeting between the two men as well as a meeting between Shahzad and Faqir Mohamed, Taliban leader in the Pakistani region of Bajaur.