In a September 2005 audiotape just released on an Islamist website, Al-Qa'idah's deputy leader showed good insight into American politics and an understanding of the importance of public opinion.
I would characterize this message - directed at his followers and not the West - as his version of "stay the course." He stated that although Al-Qa'idah is no military match for the Americans, but guerrilla tactics will succeed. He cited as examples of what has worked in the past and is working now, specifically:
- Afghan and Arab mujahidin against the Russians in Afghanistan
- Al-Qa'idah mujahidin in against the Russians in Chechnya
- Palestinian mujahidin against the "Jews" in "Palestine"
- Al-Qa'idah and Somali mujahidin against the Americans in Somalia
- Al-Qa'idah and Taliban mujahidin against the Americans in Afghanistan
- Al-Qa'idah mujahidin in Iraq
Az-Zawahiri claimed that continued mujahidin attacks will of course incur casualties, such is the nature of liberation movements everywhere. If they presevere, the Americans will leave due to increased domestic public opinion against the war, citing the "exit strategy." He likened the effort to Vietnam, when "they abandoned their helpers to meet their fates."
Az-Zawahiri is politically astute. He understands that war is waged not only on the battlefield, but in the media and public opinion. He is using all the facets, believing that if they tough it out, eventually the Americans will tire of it and go home. It was Ho Chi Minh who said, "We kill one of you, you kill ten of us. Soon you will tire of it."