"New" Osama video released; Update: Mystery solved -- new video matches video shot in 2001; Update: Zawahiri directed Red Mosque jihadis? Update: It's a re-run

Laura Mansfield’s got it, of course, as does CNN. Interestingly, the tape hasn’t been formally released yet by as-Sahab; those in the know, like Mansfield and CNN’s people abroad, know where to find this crap online before it hits the jihadi websites. Presumably so does the CIA, but who knows anymore?

It’s “new” but not really new — and yet potentially significant.

Osama bin Laden stresses the importance of martyrdom for Muslim causes in a videotape that purportedly contains a 50-second message from the al Qaeda leader.

The 40-minute videotape, whose audio was being translated from Arabic by CNN, was intercepted before it was to appear on several Islamist Web sites known for carrying statements from al Qaeda and other radical groups…

Octavia Nasr, CNN’s senior editor for Arab affairs, said the videotape does not appear to be new.

The environment shown is similar to that on releases made before the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, in which bin Laden is seen in the company of some of the hijackers, Nasr said.

Some of the backdrops also resemble those shown in videos when the U.S. attacks against the Taliban in Afghanistan began not long after the 9/11 attacks, she added.

Follow the link to Mansfield’s site to watch the clip. No subtitles, but here’s her translation:

The seal of the prophets and all messengers (reference to Prophet Mohammed), prayers and peace be upon him, wished this status.

So be alert, be wise and think.

What is this status that the best of mankind wished for himself?

He wished to be a martyr.

He himself said ‘By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I would love to attack and be martyred, then attack again and be martyred, then attack again and be martyred.’

So this whole broad life is summarized by he who was inspired by God, the lord of the heavens and earth, praised and exalted is He.

This glorious prophet who was inspired by God summarized this entire life by these words. He wished upon himself this status. Happy is the one who was chosen by god as a martyr.

The feds are already worried about Zawahiri’s new tape containing some sort of signal to jihadis in the field. The fact that it’s followed by the first new Osama video in almost three years won’t do anything to reassure them. It’s also worth noting that the quote in the middle here is repeated three times, just like the quote at the end of the Zawahiri tape that’s got the feds nervous. It comes from Volume 4, Book 52, Number 54 of the Bukhari translation of the hadith; Zawahiri’s quote came from Mohammed’s last sermon. Whether any of that is significant in and of itself, I have no idea.

Update: “Experts who study al Qaeda videos told ABC News they had not previously seen the clip of bin Laden, which was released with little fanfare and contains no date references, but say it is most likely an unreleased portion of an earlier message.”

Update: Nice work by Jim Hoft here. It’s not ironclad, but if the new video is new then he’s had that hat and jacket for a long time.

Update: Mystery solved, thanks to Jim. I googled around based on the screencap he found and discovered this article at CBS from May 2002. Luckily they’re exceptionally good about archiving their video so you can watch a clip from that Bin Laden tape right in the sidebar at the link. Compare a still from that one…


…with a still from the clip released today, noting the sloping mountain on the left and the leaves overhead:


Same video. Incidentally, that earlier video was obtained by something called the Al-Ansaar Islamic news agency, which is based in Britain. They claimed in May 2002 that they got it from a Pakistani intelligence officer a month earlier and that parts had been shot in an Afghan town called Spinboldak in March. But someone who would know disagrees:

[T]he chief editor of the Qatar-based Arab television station Al-Jazeera, which has aired videos showing bin Laden in the past, said Monday that people at the station had seen the same tape months ago and believed it was recorded in October.

“This is the same tape that we had four months ago, which we didn’t show because we didn’t think it was newsworthy,” said the editor, Ibrahim Helal. “There was nothing new in it and seemed to be a PR stunt. We think it was recorded sometime in October [2001].”

That makes more sense, as Osama probably wouldn’t have lingered long in Afghanistan after the assault on Tora Bora in November.

Update: One other thing I just noticed to confirm the match — you can see he’s explicitly referring to the Bukhari translation of the hadith in the CBS still. That’s the same translation the quote from “today’s” video comes from.

Update: Did Zawahiri goad the Ghazi boys into precipitating the Red Mosque standoff? “Senior intel officials” claim that letters from him were found by Pakistani troops inside the building after the assault finally ended, and that AQ personnel might have been on scene:

Government sources said up to 18 foreign fighters — including Uzbeks, Egyptians and several Afghans — had arrived weeks before the final shootout and set up firing ranges to teach students, including children, how to handle weapons…

Ministers blamed the presence of foreign fighters for the breakdown of negotiations at the Red Mosque just as they seemed about to reach a deal to end the standoff peacefully.

According to government sources and western diplomats, Al-Qaeda sought martyrdom instead. “They wanted a poster boy for Pakistan and Ghazi was the perfect guy,” said one western diplomat.

Yeah, this lets them tell their zombie followers that whatever it is they’re about to do in Pakistan is “self-defense” and revenge for Musharraf’s atrocities against the Mosque. The left loves loves loves Reichstag fire analogies, but I suspect they’ll be slow to see a possible twist on it here from Zawahiri — precipitating a crisis and then exploiting it as a pretext for a preconceived terror campaign not by starting the fire yourself, but by forcing the government to act and “martyr” you. Makes sense, but who knows if it’s true? All we have to go on is circumstantial evidence.

At least five bodies of foreign jihadis have already been recovered, FYI.

Update: The feared fundie outcry after the Red Mosque assault has thankfully not materialized, which may be a sign that Pakistan isn’t as close to the brink as we think.

Update: As it turns out, not only was the Osama footage filmed long ago, the clip itself isn’t new. Senior intel officials say it aired in April 2002.

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David Strom 12:01 PM on October 07, 2022