The US government expects Osama bin Laden to publish some kind of message in the next few days in order to prove two points: he’s relevant, and he’s still alive. Both have come into question thanks to an improvement in American effectiveness at silencing al-Qaeda propaganda efforts and attacking senior Taliban/AQ leadership in Pakistan. One counterterrorist source says the terrorist have had a “bad month”:
Multiple senior government officials tell ABC News the intelligence community is anticipating a message from Osama bin Laden before or just after the presidential election.
As we race toward Election Day, sources say a number of intelligence analysts have concluded it is critical for al Qaeda’s top leader to be seen or heard, if only for public relations purposes. Those analysts believe that if bin Laden is not heard from, he runs the risk of being considered irrelevant or impotent. The U.S. intelligence community has some indication that there is some confusion among Islamic radicals about their leadership.
According to sources, the full weight of the intelligence electronic eavesdropping and human sourcing is right now desperately looking for any hint of a bin Laden statement. So far there is only rumor, no hard evidence a message is coming, officials said.
This sets up an interesting conundrum. In 2004, John Kerry blamed his narrow defeat at the hands of George W. Bush on the emergence of the OBL tape that reminded everyone that the world remains a dangerous place. If the tape emerges this time, it could have the same effect as in 2004. If counterterrorist forces succeed in blocking the tape, the success may benefit the candidate who has spent the most time complaining about the failures of the war effort.
I don’t think Kerry lost because Osama spoke in late 2004, and I don’t think an Osama message would doom Obama, either. Americans know that bin Laden and his merry crew of homicidal lunatics still live in the Pakistani hinterlands, although thanks to a stepped-up effort from US forces in Afghanistan, fewer and fewer of them will live much longer. Even the militant jihadis won’t get terribly impressed with Osama’s ability to keep breathing, since AQ has done almost nothing else of late.
The American victory in Iraq made Osama bin Laden irrelevant. His defeat there proved that OBL was no divine prophet, but merely a nutcase with lots of money and poor taste in picking commanders. When he breathes his last, few will mourn and even fewer will care.