London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Al-Andalus Media Foundation, the media wing of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), announced on Saturday that it would ‘open the door’ to receive questions from the international media, as well as the general public, and that it would respond via the social networking website Twitter.
The foundation said on its Twitter page that the questions would be “presented to Skeikh Ahmad Abu Abdul Ilah, head of the Al-Andalus Media Foundation, in order for him answer them.” Once completed, the answers will be compiled into a single document, and will be readily available for download. It will be published in numerous languages, including Arabic, English, French, and others. The deadline for submitting questions is tomorrow, April 2, between 6 and 8 p.m. GMT.
The announcement was described by Al-Qaeda as “significant”. Ayman Al-Zawahiri—the current leader of the Al-Qaeda network—previously conducted a dialogue via e-mail and fundamentalist websites before the assassination of Bin Laden, who was killed in May 2011 by US Navy SEALs. In his statements, he spoke of “the enemy near and far”; the organizations literature; and the losses incurred after the attacks of September 11. In an open discussion in 2008, Zawahiri answered roughly a hundred questions posed to him by both the media and militants affiliated to Al-Qaeda. He responded to claims that he is responsible for killing thousands of innocent civilians as a result of terrorist operations.
In related news, an Al-Qaeda Twitter account posted three tweets on Saturday. One included a message directly to the families of hostages in Mali, and called for the “French people” to put “pressure” on their government to cease its intervention in Mali, and stop its operations against Islamic extremist groups.
Another statement from Al-Qaeda, published last week by the Mauritanian Agence Nouakchott Informations (ANI) news agency, was also directed at the families of the hostages and the “French people”. It read, “Your sons—hostages of Al-Qaeda—are very much alive, except for the spy Philippe Verdon.” The terrorist organization announced on March 19 that Verdon had been killed, in revenge for French operations in northern Mali. The press release went on to warn, “However, we cannot guarantee they will remain alive indefinitely, because of your government’s aggression and your army’s attacks against mujahedeen bases.”