Analysts: Bin Laden tape about relevance

first_imgTERRORISM: His video doesn’t warn of new attacks; it merely proves that he is alive. By Paul Haven THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Osama bin Laden’s latest message is a hodgepodge of anti- capitalist vitriol, impassioned Islamic evangelism and what can best be described as a twisted attempt at reconciliation: Join us, or we’ll kill you. Analysts say the video that came out days before the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is more about timing than substance, an attempt by history’s most-wanted fugitive to thumb his nose at the forces arrayed against him and remind the world that he hasn’t been caught. He ridiculed President Bush on Iraq, saying events there have gotten “out of control” and comparing the American leader to “one who plows and sows the sea: He harvests nothing but failure.” Despite widespread fears, al-Qaida has so far failed to launch a second attack on the scale of Sept. 11, and many believe the video message – bin Laden’s first since 2004 – was also an attempt to stay relevant. Anne Giudicelli, a former French diplomat specializing in the Middle East who now runs the Paris-based consultancy Terrorisc, said bin Laden is well-aware that his reappearance on the world stage – looking fit and with his beard dyed a youthful black – was itself a victory that went beyond anything he actually said. “The objective is obviously to show that despite everything in place against him, he has survived. That’s the No. 1 message,” she said. “The mere fact of appearing in a video is already a message.” Louis Caprioli of the risk-management firm Geos, and former head of the French intelligence agency DST’s anti-terrorism operations, said, “What’s important is that he made an appearance.” “The question everyone was asking is, `Is he dead or alive?”‘ Caprioli said. “Now we have proof that he’s alive, surprising a lot of experts who thought he was dead.” In the tape released Friday, bin Laden mentions the anniversary of the Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. He also refers to the Democratic Party’s congressional victory in last fall’s election and to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was elected in May. Ben Venzke of the IntelCenter, a U.S.-based intelligence group that monitors terrorism messages, said the Hiroshima reference means the earliest the tape could have been made is on or shortly after Aug. 9 – less than a month ago. While this was bin Laden’s first message in a year, and the first time he appeared in a new video since 2004, other al-Qaida leaders have been using the airwaves more and more in recent months. The new video, which came just days before Tuesday’s sixth anniversary of the devastating attacks on New York and Washington, was released on the heels of two recently thwarted terrorism plots in Europe, both linked to al-Qaida. German authorities say a cell there sought to launch an imminent attack on Frankfurt International Airport and America’s Ramstein Air Base, among other targets. In Denmark, officials arrested eight people, all who were allegedly in contact with what Danish anti-terrorism officials called “leading al-Qaida persons.” Still, bin Laden made no overt threats of new attacks in the video released Friday. In fact, he seemed more concerned with lecturing on the evils of capitalism and the dangers of global warming, and even making reference to the subprime mortgage crisis roiling the U.S. In the video, bin Laden tells the American people his fighters are duty bound to “escalate the fighting and killing against you” in Iraq. But he adds that there is a solution to the bloodshed, saying: “I invite you to embrace Islam.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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