A signal to attack?

U.S. authorities now say they have a transcript which they say is aimed at potential suicide bombers who he urges to carry out missions against the West.

Richard Clarke says he thinks the beard looks fake. The possibility of Osama shaving his beard to disguise himself was floated after 9/11; the FBI or CIA even produced an artist’s rendering of what he might look like without one but naturally I can’t find it anywhere online. Clarke thinks shaving would actually be counterproductive in the Pakistani tribal areas since it would make him stand out, not blend in, raising the slender possibility that he’s decamped to some other region.

Compare for yourself. The area at the corners of his mouth where the mustache meets the beard does seem oddly thinner now than it was in 2004.

Update: Not the one I’m thinking of, but this flier comes courtesy of a reader from the Defense Department.

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Update: Many thanks to the reader who dug this up somewhere and sent it in. This is the one I’m thinking of.

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Update: The White House confirms it has a copy of the tape.

Update: I can’t wait. Remember, it’s an absolute article of faith on the left that Bin Laden wants us in Iraq, has always wanted us in Iraq, and will continue to want us in Iraq to give him a casus belli with which to recruit.

Several intelligence agencies were looking at the 25-minute video — the first new images of the terror leader in nearly three years.

The tape contains no specific threat, senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News’ Robert Windrem. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue…

Officials said bin Laden criticized Democrats in Congress in the video for being unable to stop the war in Iraq. The al-Qaida leader also urged young Muslims to carry out suicide bombings against the West — a piece of advice he offers in most tapes…

Soon after Washington announced it had the video, all the Islamic militant Web sites that usually carry statements from al-Qaida went down and were inaccessible, in an unprecedented shutdown.

The reason for the shutdown was not immediately known. Evan Kohlmann, an NBC News terrorism expert, said he suspected it was the work of al-Qaida itself, trying to find how the video leaked to U.S. officials.

Predictable leftist spin to come: Osama’s afraid we’re going to withdraw and is trying to bait us into staying via reverse psychology. In fact, given the inhospitability of Anbar, he may be looking for an excuse to get out himself and redeploy the new recruits into hitting Musharraf or targets in the west. He can’t do that until we leave, though, or he loses face. See again Ralph Peters’s comment and the poll from last year that I linked in the Schumer post for more about AQ’s own strategic difficulties in Iraq. If he’s committed to staying, then a withdrawal is in his best interest not, per Bush’s usual stated reason, because it would give him a safe haven in Anbar — it wouldn’t, at least at first — but because his best shot at winning over the people he’s alienated would be for the Shia to go on the offensive and push the Sunnis into such a tight corner that they’d be grateful for help even from the Wahhabists. That won’t happen so long as the U.S. is there to keep a (loose) lid on the sectarian warfare.

Update: ABC says it has the transcript. Unbelievable.

“People of America: the world is following your news in regards to your invasion of Iraq, for people have recently come to know that, after several years of tragedies of this war, the vast majority of you want it stopped. Thus, you elected the Democratic Party for this purpose, but the Democrats haven’t made a move worth mentioning. On the contrary, they continue to agree to the spending of tens of billions to continue the killing and war there.”

The rambling transcript also mentions French President Sakozy, which suggests the tape was made after Sarkozy’s election in May.

According to the transcript, bin Laden says there are two ways to end the war:

“The first is from our side, and it is to continue to escalate the killing and fighting against you.”

The second is to do away with the American democratic system of government. “It has now become clear to you and the entire world the impotence of the democratic system and how it plays with the interests of the peoples and their blood by sacrificing soldiers and populations to achieve the interests of the major corporations.”

Bin Laden goes on to call Noam Chomsky “among one of the most capable of those from your own side,” and mentions global warming and “the Kyoto accord.”

In case you’re not clear on who he’s trying to appeal to, he also denounced, and I quote, “neoconservatives like Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Richard Perle.” Exit question: Why does Osama even know who Richard Perle is?

Update: Needless to say, this isn’t the first “special comment” to come from Al Qaeda.

Update: ABC has added more to the transcript. For the second time today, you’ve got to be kidding:

He also speaks to recent issues grabbing headlines in the United States, referring to “the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes…”

No taxes under shari’a either, he promises. Go read Slate’s review of “The Al Qaeda Reader” to see how transparently manufactured Al Qaeda’s message is to appeal to western leftists by invoking their pet causes. Sample quote: “You have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gases, more than any other country. Despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and industries.”

Update: NBC’s got the full transcript. Have at it.