The terror group's media wing, as-Sahabm, released the 11-minute audio featuring a statement by Zawahiri titled, "The Departure of Bush and the Advent of Obama."
Zawahri began his remarks by congratulating Muslims on the election of Obama, describing it as, "the American people's admission of defeat in Iraq," noting that the American people had voted for the candidate who wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.
He then addresses president-elect directly, warning him that President Bush was leaving a legacy of "failure and crimes" in his wake.
Zawahiri tells Obama that his plan to re-concentrate military efforts in Afghanistan is doomed to failure. He warns the new leader that by doing so, not only will his forces be defeated, but he himself will be met by the same fate as Mr. Bush and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf - both of whom arguably saw their popularity wither thanks to their respective actions in the U.S.-led war on terror.
"It appears that you don't know anything about the Muslim Ummah (nation) and its history, or the fate of the traitors who cooperated with the invaders against it, and don't know anything about the history of Afghanistan and its free and defiant Muslim people. And if you still want to be stubborn about America's failure in Afghanistan, then remember the fate of Bush and Pervez Musharraf, and the fate of the Soviets and British before them," Zawahri says in the audio.
Bin Laden's deputy labels Obama another president who has chosen a stance of hostility against Islam and Muslims. He said Obama had "abandoned his Muslim faith," and set up a direct comparison between the president-elect and Malcom X, "who prided himself on his fraternity with the Muslims… You represent the direct opposite of honorable black Americans like Malik al-Shabazz, or Malcolm X, may Allah have mercy on him."
Despite having been schooled briefly at an Islamic school while living in Indonesia as a child, Obama has never been a practicing Muslim.
Zawahiri warned Obama that America's fight is not against a small group or organization, but rather an Islamic Jihadi awakening spread all over the world.
The third part of Zawahiri's statement was aimed at Muslims worldwide. He advises them that Obama's election does not change what al Qaeda has for years sold as America's hostile stance towards Islam, and therefore Muslims still have a duty to continue "causing harm" to the U.S.
"America's criminal, expansionist crusader project in your lands has only been neutralized by the sacrifices of your sons, the Mujahideen," Zawahiri says to Muslims.
He then addresses the Islamic militants around the world, with special attention paid to those in Iraq. He congratulates them on their work, and urges them to keep up the fight. He speaks to the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, warning him of "conspiracies and betrayals" that may take place during the coming period, as the U.S. begins a serious withdrawal from Iraq.
Prior to Zawahri's audio release Wednesday, a far-less-specific message from al-Baghdadi, which failed to mention Obama, had been the only post-election message from al Qaeda.
Zawahri also addressed "the world's weak and oppressed." He told them not to be fooled into thinking that Obama's election may bring the change they've been longing for. Despite the new leadership, "America's heart is still full of hate, its mind drowning in greed, and its spirit still spreading evil, murder, repression and despotism, as always," he said.
The al Qaeda deputy concluded with a message to the American people, saying they had two choices; to accept the "defeat and losses caused by America's policies," or take Osama bin Laden's offer and "withdraw from the lands of the Muslims and refrain from stealing their treasures and interfering in their affairs."
The tape was most likely recorded during the week of Nov. 3, 2008, shortly after the result of the U.S. election was announced. Zawahiri referred to a U.S. airstrike that killed 37 people in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Nov. 3, saying it took place "last Monday."
Zawahiri's speech was played over a collage of three pictures: at center, Zawahri dressed in traditional Arab white robes and turban (this image is from his third taped interview for as-Sahab); at right, a black and white picture of Malcom X; and at left, a picture of Obama at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, wearing a traditional Jewish skullcap.