AL QAEDA CONTINUES TO APPEAR NERVOUS…. A couple of months ago, President Obama noted that terrorist leaders “seem nervous” with the change in U.S. administrations. It seems al Qaeda leaders are intent on proving the president right.

In the latest example, Ayman al-Zawahri has begged Muslims not to like Obama, and tried to convince his audience that Obama is practically identical to George W. Bush.

“America came to us with a new face, with which it is trying to fool us. He is calling for change, but (he aims) to change us so that we abandon our religion and rights,” Ayman al-Zawahri said in an audio recording on the website.

Zawahri said Obama’s election was an acknowledgement that Bush’s policy had failed.

“Obama did not change the image of America among Muslims…America is still killing Muslims,” said the Egyptian militant leader.

Zawahri’s public-relations panic fits in nicely with the larger trend (indeed, Zawahri was similarly defensive about Obama in early February). Al Qaeda leaders were able to exploit George W. Bush’s policies to recruit, expand, and raise money. The terrorist network is now in a much tougher position, not only in light of Bush’s departure, but also with Barack Obama’s international popularity. The very last thing al Qaeda wanted was a U.S. president who enjoys global admiration — and that’s exactly what they’re responding to.

The result is a terrorist network with panicky pleas, urging followers and potential sympathetic ears to think of Bush and Obama as one and the same — reality notwithstanding.

Rita Katz, who created the Site Intelligence Group, a private company that monitors jihadist communications, recently said the terrorist’s hysterical rants against the president show “just how much al Qaeda is intimidated by Obama.”

Good. The White House has already made a series of moves — on torture, Guantanamo, outreach — that reinforce American values and make al Qaeda’s job that much more difficult.

To emphasize the obvious, the more the terrorist network feels intimidated, the better it is for our national security interests.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.