Bin Laden resurfaces in threatening new video
Excerpts from Sheldon Alberts, CanWest News Service and Lee Keath, AP writer
In a new 26-minute video released ahead of the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Osama bin Laden made no overt threats but lectured Americans on the Iraq war and criticized global capitalism, calling its leaders–President Bush, Gordon Brown, and Nicolas Sarkozy of France–the real terrorists.
“This is why I tell you: as you liberated yourselves before from the slavery of monks, kings and feudalism, you should liberate yourselves from the deception, shackles and attrition of the capitalist system,” he said. In the new video, bin Laden derided President Bush, saying events in Iraq have gotten “out of control” and the American leader “is like the one who plows and sows the sea: He harvests nothing but failure.” Bin Laden said there were two solutions to stopping the Iraq war. “One is from our side, and it is to escalate the fighting and killing against you. This is our duty, and our brothers are carrying it out,” bin Laden said.“The second solution is from your side. … I invite you to embrace Islam,” he said.
One result of that, bin Laden said, would be an end to the Iraq war. He said “warmongering owners of the major corporations” would rush to appease voters who showed they are looking for an alternative, “and this alternative is Islam.”
Bin Laden wears a white robe, a white circular cap and a beige cloak seated behind a table while reading an address to the American people from papers in front of him.His trimmed beard is shorter than in his last video, in 2004, and is fully black – apparently dyed, since in past videos it was mostly gray. He speaks softly, as he usually does, and has dark bags under his eyes, but his appearance dispelled rumors that he had died.…. (He) praises author Noam Chomsky, an early critic of the Iraq war, as well as Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, who has said poor U.S. leadership was losing the war against terrorist groups.The video opens with bin Laden, speaking in Arabic, praising Allah and his law of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth and the killer is killed.” In the videotape, bin Laden blames American voters for the ongoing problems in Iraq. The re-election of President George W. Bush was an endorsement from Americans “to continue to murder our people” in Iraq and Afghanistan, he says.
“You made one of your greatest mistakes, in that you neither brought to account nor punished those who waged this war, not even the most violent of its murderers,” bin Laden says. “You permitted Bush to complete his first term, and stranger still, chose him for a second term, which gave him a clear mandate from you … Then you claim to be innocent. The innocence of yours is like my innocence of the blood of your sons on the 11th (of September), were I to claim such a thing.”
Bin Laden then mocks the inability of U.S. Democrats, who became the majority in Congress last November, to force a change in American policy in Iraq.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Bin Laden also uses the tape to thumb his nose at American power, gloating about how the U.S. has been forced to adjust its entire foreign policy because of 9-11.
“Nineteen young men were able … to change the direction of its compass,” he says.
“The subject of the mujahedeen has become an inseparable part of the speech of your leader and the effects and signs are not hidden. Since the 11th, many of America’s policies have come under the influence of the mujahedeen.”
At one point, bin Laden appears to refer to American TV news interviews with U.S. troops in Iraq as recently as July. He even names one of the soldiers who criticized U.S. politicians.
“It would benefit you to listen to the poignant messages of your soldiers in Iraq, who are paying – with their blood, nerves and scattered limbs,” he says.
In an apparent effort to demonstrate his awareness of current events, bin Laden even mentions the current crisis over sub-prime mortgages in the U.S. and the debate over global warming.
Bin Laden’s video comes just three days after German authorities announced they had foiled a major terrorist plots to attack the U.S. air force base at Ramstein and the Frankfurt International Airport.
During the video, bin Laden’s image moves for only a total of about 3 minutes in two segments, staying frozen the rest of the time while his remarks continue.
A former senior U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it might have resulted from a technical glitch while al-Qaida passed the video through a variety of computer sites to mask its cyber trail.
The United States intercepted the video before it was released on Islamic Web sites where al-Qaida usually posts its messages, a U.S. counterterrorism official said in Washington. U.S. officials had analyzed the video for hours before transcripts and videos were leaked, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The official said analysts were studying bin Laden’s physical characteristics – for clues about his health after unconfirmed rumors earlier this year that he had died of kidney disease.
Michael Chertoff, the U.S. homeland security secretary, said intelligence analysts were still trying to confirm the authenticity of the bin Laden tape.
“People are always interested in trying to figure out if he’s alive, if he’s healthy,” he said. “One of the things you want to do whenever you get a tape is try to determine whether it’s been Photoshopped or whether people have integrated different tapes from different types of film into a single broadcast.”
Associated Press writers Lara Jakes Jordan, Pamela Hess and Matthew Lee in Washington and Sarah DiLorenzo in New York contributed to this report.