Was This on GMA or al-Jazeera?

January 31st, 2006 9:18 AM

On this morning's Good Morning America, Robin Roberts read a brief news item about the latest tape from al Qaeda's #2 terrorist, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The tape was produced and released in part as a response to the U.S. effort to kill al-Zawahiri with a Predator air strike on January 14th. Roberts description of that attempt was incomplete, inaccurate and echoed Zawahiri's own propaganda on the air strike.

Near 7:12AM, Robin Roberts: "The FBI is asking its field offices to review all cases in light of a new video from al Qaeda's number two man. On the tape, Ayman al-Zawahiri called President Bush a 'butcher' and a 'failure'. He referred extensively to the failed U.S. air strike which was meant for him but killed civilians instead."

The phrase "killed civilians instead" failed to relay the fact that important al Qaeda figures were killed in the attack. In a January 25th email, Strategic Forecasting, a private intelligence service, had a more complete report of the air strike:

"Though al-Zawahiri apparently was not present at the time of the attack, the Pakistani government later revealed that four senior al Qaeda members -- identified as Abdul al-Maghribi, Midhat Mursi al-Sayid Umar, Khalid Habib and Abu Obaidah al-Masri -- were killed, along with several villagers.

"The identities of these four men, and the role they apparently played within al Qaeda, is key:
"Al-Maghribi: Believed to be al-Zawahiri's son-in-law and to be involved in al Qaeda's media relations operations.

"Al-Sayid Umar: Also known as Abu Khabab al-Masri. A leading al Qaeda bomb-maker and instructor, who is believed to have trained suicide operatives for several anti-U.S. strikes -- including the attack against the USS Cole in October 2000.

"Habib: Reportedly al Qaeda's operations chief in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. Believed to have helped plan assassination attempts against Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Close ties to Abu Farj al-Libi, who was arrested in Pakistan in May 2005.

"Al-Masri: An Egyptian, believed to be in charge of planning attacks against coalition forces in eastern Afghanistan."