Al-Qaeda: McCain for president!

Al-Qaeda is backing John McCain in the US presidential election, according to the website considered to be the voice of al-Qaeda’s leadership. It says that the notorious terrorist group would like to see four more years of Bush policies in the Middle East

“Al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming election…he would continue the failing march of his predecessor,” it said.

The comment, published by the Washington Post, said that bringing down the United States as well as other western powers would need the present course of action in the region to be continued: “This requires the presence of an impetuous American leader such as McCain, who pledged to continue the war till the last American soldier.”

The Republican presidential hopeful has said that he does not support a withdrawal from Iraq and wants to increase the troop presence in Afghanistan. In contrast, Democratic candidate Barack Obama has called for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq so that money can be freed up for domestic programs.

This fact may worry Al-Qaeda as a smaller US presence in the region could hurt recruitment efforts by the terrorist group.

Many believe that al-Qaeda might attempt to cast its own ‘vote’ in the election. Joseph Nye, a political scholar who served under the Carter administration, believes that al-Qaeda could try to carry out an attack on the US in order to shift the vote towards McCain.

The recent posting on the Al Hasbah website appears to confirm this feeling.

“If al-Qaeda carries out a big operation against American interests,” the message said, “this act will support McCain because it will push the Americans deliberately to vote for McCain so that he takes revenge for them against al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda then will succeed in exhausting America till its last year in it.”

Al-Qaeda has a history of trying to influence elections.

The 2004 Madrid train bombings were viewed as an attempt to unseat then prime minister of Spain, Jose Maria Aznar. Aznar lost the election three days after the attack.

Later that year, again just days before the election in the US, Osama bin Laden released a video message threatening terrorist attacks on America. Many believe this helped tip the scale towards Bush who was favoured more in foreign policy polls over John Kerry. Kerry himself admitted that he lost the election because of it.

The election comes at a time when Americans, recent polls suggest, have become more concerned about the failing economy and less worried about terrorism and national security. Al-Qaeda may be interested in reminding the world of its presence.

McCain camp calls al-Qaeda endorsement “reverse psychology”

The Republican campaign responded to the story by criticising the Islamist website for having only a loose association with al-Qaeda – and blasted the Washington Post for breaking the story.

“Whatever musings and bravado on radical websites the Washington Post chooses to quote, the fact remains that only John McCain has the experience, judgment and fortitude to lead a country at war,” said McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann

Jim Woosley, former CIA director and current McCain advisor, said that the comment posted on the website was actually trying to hurt McCain.

“If one takes one individual Islamist blogger from one terrorist Islamist blog who has come up with this statement that it would be good to have McCain in the White House, I think one has to consider the motives,” he said. “This individual knows that the endorsement of people like him is a kiss of death, figuratively and literally. So it seems to be that it is pretty clear by making this statement it would be a good thing for McCain to be president. He wants to damage McCain. He's not speaking from his heart.”

Wooster added: “It is ridiculous to believe that in its heart of hearts that al-Qaeda wants John McCain to be the president. It's ludicrous.”

The Obama campaign did not comment.

 From the Washington Post