Just when you thought it was safe to swim in the North West Frontier Province … Osama bin Laden returns with another taped missive for the lunatic fringe. Last time anyone heard from the top leadership of al-Qaeda, or what’s left of it, they scolded the Europeans for not surrendering to their will. This time, bin Laden directs his venom at the US, along with a heaping helping of historical revisionism and a rhetorical jab at the Joooooooos and their conspiracies:
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden warned the American people over their government’s close ties with Israel in an apparently new audio tape posted on an Islamist website Monday.
“The time has come for you to liberate yourselves from fear and the ideological terrorism of neo-conservatives and the Israeli lobby,” Bin Laden’s latest tape said.
“The reason for our dispute with you is your support for your ally Israel, occupying our land in Palestine.”
That’s a change for AQ and Osama. Originally, their “dispute” started over our “occupation” of Saudi land, which Osama considered an offense to holy ground. The Saudis hosted us during the twelve years of attempting to contain Saddam Hussein, and AQ attacks began arguably in 1993 (1st WTC) and certainly in 1996 (Khobar Towers). Why the focus on Israel now? Reuters explains:
Analysts who study al Qaeda say the organization is under pressure from followers to strike at Israel following criticism from many Arab commentators that it has never succeeded in launching a direct attack on the Jewish state.
Increasingly frequent and belligerent mentions of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute in al Qaeda statements is an attempt to deflect such criticism, they say.
In fact, AQ has killed many more Muslims than non-Muslims during the erratic course of bin Laden’s career. They have never successfully attacked Israel, and perhaps they’re not too keen to try. Israel has a much more pragmatic approach to counterterrorism and interrogations than the US, mainly because they have a much more keen sense of the existential threat that radical Islamists pose to their nation. I’m sure the Mossad’s not exactly on the sidelines against AQ, but if bin Laden hit Israel, they could expect a scorched-earth response that the US has mainly avoided since 9/11.
That doesn’t keep Osama from indulging in his paranoid delusions about the Jooooooos, as the BBC reports. Osama also goes after Barack Obama in an apparent attempt to validate his existence:
“You have only changed the faces in the White House,” he said, referring to Obama who took office this year. “Obama is a weakened man. He will not be able to stop the war.”
Really, it’s the same old crap repackaged for 2009. It does have potential significance in another way, though. In the past, Osama’s messages have set the stage for coordinated attacks. Of late, AQ has been unable to conduct attacks after most of these speeches, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable now. So while we rightly dismiss the message contents as the dull, repetitive droning of a paranoid delusional, the fact of the message should put us on heightened alert.