NEVER LET ‘EM SEE YOU SWEAT…. During the presidential campaign, we’d occasionally hear far-right Republicans insist that al Qaeda would be thrilled to see Obama win the White House. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) offered one of the more ridiculous examples, but he certainly wasn’t alone.

I think about those tirades every time al Qaeda gets a little more panicky about the Obama presidency.

Al-Qaida’s deputy leader on Tuesday criticized President Barack Obama’s upcoming speech to the Islamic world in Cairo, saying it will not change the “bloody messages” the U.S. military is sending Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. Al-Qaida has repeatedly lashed out at Obama since he was elected, a move some analysts believe indicates the terrorist organization is worried he will be effective in improving the U.S. image in the Muslim world.

Yep. These new audio messages, posted to militant web sites, continue to make the terrorist network sound rather desperate. In this new one, Ayman al-Zawahri urges Muslims to believe that the United States has launched a “war on Islam,” and asks Egyptians to reject Obama as a “criminal.” (He also hinted that the U.S. president might be a secret Jew, noting Obama’s visit to the Wailing Wall in Israel: “[Obama] put on his head the Jew’s cap and prayed their prayers, though he claims to be Christian.”)

The new al Qaeda clip is the latest piece of a larger public-relations panic. Zawahri seemed desperate to convince Muslims how awful Obama is in April, and before that, in February. It’s a reminder that while the terrorist group could exploit Bush’s agenda and unpopularity to recruit, expand, and raise money, Obama puts al Qaeda in a far more difficult position.

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.”

Update: Looks like Osama bin Laden is rearing his head, too.

Steve Benen

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.