May 16th, 2008
09:57 AM ET

Bin Laden and Palestine

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/05/16/art.binladen.message.jpg caption="A frame grab from new video featuring an audio statement from Osama bin Laden to the people of the West about Israel's 60th anniversary."]

Peter Bergen
CNN National Security Analyst

Less than a day after Republican presidential candidate John McCain promised that if he won the presidency Osama bin Laden would be captured or killed by 2013, a message from al Qaeda’s leader appeared on jihadist websites reminding the world that he is alive and well.

Bin Laden’s audiotape message commented on the recent 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel; promised that he would fight for the liberation of Palestine, and told his Muslim listeners that they have a duty to help in that effort.

Was the audiotape an attempt by bin Laden to remain relevant by pushing on the issue that remains a hot button for most Muslims? After 9/11 some commentators said that the Palestinian issue was something that bin Laden had recently adopted in order to appeal to a wide range of Muslims. This is false.

When al Qaeda’s leader declared war on the United States publicly for the first time in August 1996
part of his rationale concerned the Palestinian issue:

“My Muslim Brothers: The money you pay to buy American goods will be transformed into bullets and used against our brothers in Palestine…I feel still the pain of [the loss of] Al-Quds in my internal organs; (Al Quds, the site of the third holiest place of pilgrimage in Islam, was annexed to Israel in 1967.)

Despite the fact the bin Laden has long been preoccupied by the Palestinian issue, al Qaeda has done little concrete to advance the cause of Palestine. Part of the reason for that is al Qaeda’s leaders have for years been critical of Palestinian figures such as Yasser Arafat, who they despised for being a “secularist” and the leadership of Hamas which they have criticized for taking part in elections. For its part, Hamas has also publicly distanced itself from al Qaeda.

Despite the animosity between al Qaeda and Hamas, what may emerge in the Palestinian Authority are small, ultraviolent groups inspired by bin Laden’s messages that are more militant than Hamas. A similar phenomenon occurred in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon recently with the emergence of violent al Qaeda-like groups such as Fatah al-Islam. Needless to say, al Qaeda-like groups emerging in Gaza would further complicate matters for the Palestinians and Israelis.

Filed under: Israel • Osama bin Laden • Palestine • Peter Bergen • War on Terror
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Julie San Diego, CA

    This was predictible, wasn't it? While the world focuses on China and Myanmar (Burma), The World's Most Badly Parented Kid decides he needs some attention...

    Let's not give it to him.

    He's just trying to stir the pot and hopefully the world is smarter than that.

    Meanwhile...congratulations to the young couple I met on their honeymoon this weekend...in a week, she's back to her humanitarian aid work in Thailand, he's back to Iraq for what will hopefully be his final tour of duty...a couple of well-parented kids...very humbling to meet people that just work and live their lives with grace and dignity, cleaning up the messes the spoiled brats of the world make.

    May 19, 2008 at 9:49 am |
  2. george daniels

    I wonder why we waste time listening to a tape done by a looser like Bin Laden. Giving him the attention encourages him to think he's powerful like in the Taliban days in Afganistan. Let's treat him like a "reject" so that he would realize he has been a fool while he hides in his cave.

    May 18, 2008 at 11:51 pm |
  3. sam

    It is my strong beelief that if you ignore Ben Laden and his gang he will fade away. The western media puts too much emphasis on what his diabolic mind thinks and give him a platform to spread his poison.
    Ignore the man for good, you wont hear from him again!

    May 18, 2008 at 12:57 pm |
  4. MFM - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Osama Bin Ladin, Al-Queda, and Whabbism is no more reflective or the largely secular global Muslim majority than the Ku Klux Klan and the Extremist Christian movement is of the largely secular global Christian majority or for that matter Meir Kahne, and Kahne Chai is representative of the largely secular global Jewish majority.

    Extremists are by definition a minority.

    We, as religious, atheist, or secular individuals, must come together after the folly of the GW Bush "Freedom Fry" administration's global response to 9-11 which has not only illegally deystroyed Iraq, removed the focus from Afghanistan and allowed Al-Queda to rebuild, and created many new generations of extremists, but also decimated the allied military, economic, and industrial structures.

    President Clinton, President Obama, or President McCain will all face the same reality, their leadership will only marshal, at best, the next four to eight years of US governance, but the problems facing the US and the world, after the actions of President GW Bush and Osama Bin Ladin, will take generations to correct.

    But, with every journey, one must take the first step. Unilateralism and brute force is no longer an option, intelligent, moral, ethical, honest discourse, diplomacy, and action in concert with our allies is the only long-term and permanent solution to all the related problems.

    God Bless.

    May 18, 2008 at 7:34 am |
  5. ZIUS

    i think binladin is working for the republicans or they are letting him loose on purpose........terrorist dont like peace.. bin laden is good propaganda tool for bush+mccain.. and bush is a recruiting excuse for continued murder...just two terrorists taking care of each other...democrats will put an end to their game....sorry i just had to go out and say it... ( this doesnt apply to all republicans) ONLY THE RELIGIOUS ATHEIST (MCCAIN) HE'S NOT EVEN BAPTIZED

    May 18, 2008 at 5:24 am |
  6. J.V.Hodgson

    Of course he supports his Islamic and muslim brothers. Why are we/you surprised.
    I suspect he does not really care whether Hamas or Fatah bring about a secure and safe Palestinian state... oops by the way why are Bush McCain and any other US politician pushing National American security button?
    Hey guys, grow a brain, until the Middle East has national security you will not have it and in the process cause pain internationally unecessarily.
    Maybe what I say here is too extreme and the real answer is somewhere in the middle, but for sure the Israelis fighting Hamas and the US waring in Iraq is not a solution. But just maybe talking to ALL concerned might resolve.
    Then maybe I can get on a plane like I used to do (1hr beforehand) take a bottle of water on board and not be treated like the criminal I am not at immigration or need finger printing and retina scanning.
    Hi tech passports, security scanning devices are the solution. This is a once off cost versus the billions lost internationally by having to turn up 3 hours before departure.
    Right now, commercially, Oil prices, territorially, minds of Islamists and Muslims Bin laden is winning and will do so even if McCain catches him and kills him. He is just a titular head not the cause they fight for.

    May 18, 2008 at 4:29 am |
  7. Pat M


    Three letters answers that question – O I L
    The American Opium

    May 17, 2008 at 11:37 pm |
  8. Ruth

    I've always wondered if Osama Bin laden was resting up in some luxurious 5 star hotel somewhere? Where would be the last place you would look? If they haven't caught him by now, I doubt if they will unless there was some supernatural intervention.Only time will tell?

    May 17, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  9. mohamed

    that is a strange logic I mean why do ur country has an army if you just leave your land to save the blood.

    but even Palestinians agreed to settle the crisis upon 1948 border but isreal refused because they have more land in their hands why should leave!!
    then the Palestinians agreed on 1967 borders but Israel now refuses!!
    they want their settlements in the west bank . so where the Palestinians would start over and when would Israel stop asking for more land..

    bush calls the 1973 borders unrealistic and the plestienians should agree on
    * a country ripped apart by the settlements (ghettos).
    *denouncing all demands for the return of the "aprox 5 million" Palestinian refugee
    *leaving Jerusalem and the "aqsa mosque"which is important for all muslims.
    *An Israeli control over the border "to starve them".

    and why shouldn't they constrait on economy and education.
    they are trying but Israel is Imposing a siege an preventing food supplies ,gas ,imports and exports, and if the siege is about preventing guns (why prevent the exports!!!)

    that siege destroyed their economy and boosted unemployment to 70% present, most of their factories got destroyed and an average
    Palestinian built his home 3 times after being removed by Israel again and again

    and about love!! an Israeli professor did a research asking a school
    children "who thinks that Palestinians should got tortured and have their homes destroyed?" ,more than 90% said me ...the gov fired him instead of investigating the reason of the children's bloodthirstiness

    I one question to ask why Israel didn't apply the security council resolution while IRAQ got destroyed upon one resolution.

    If Israel just comply to the resolutions, the problem would end because they call for a retreat to 1967 border and that is accepted by the Palestinians and all the arab countries.

    May 17, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
  10. Pat M

    "Less than a day after Republican presidential candidate John McCain promised that if he won the presidency Osama bin Laden would be captured or killed by 2013, "

    And after Senator McCain making this statement how can anyone have any doubts that he is another WAR MONGERING, Arrogant, Power Hungry, Politician just like the one who is Leading the Nation now!!!

    He will capture and killl Osama Bin Laden! PLEASE give us a break.
    You mean he also is delusional enuff to believe the man is still alive??? Somebody should ensure that Bush and McCain get the Professional Counselling they both so obviously need! If Americans and the Media don't soon wake up and see McCain and Obama in a true light the World will be in Peril for another FOUR YEARS!

    May 17, 2008 at 7:19 am |
  11. Raymond Rijkse

    Ironically, Bin Laden refers to the Koran while threatening people with terror. He's the worlds biggest biggot and coward, hiding in the mountains and releasing idiotic video tapes that only insults the American intelligence for his own political gain. What's the death count up to for insurgents these days? And to think people actually listen to him...

    May 17, 2008 at 6:02 am |
  12. Jim

    Paris. You say "Why not accept that all humans are created by god and equal. Why can’t Palestinians and Israelis start loving one another?"

    That is my point. We are all human beings but many feel they are more valuable than others.

    May 17, 2008 at 4:06 am |
  13. Jerome

    Hey Mohamed...It was Jewish land to begin with. You can't have all the land that muslims stole from Jews and Christians and forced everyone to pay the Jizya. Why don't you apologize for raping and killing Christian's for over 800 years in Espana and you have the balls to think it is still you're land. It is interesting that only muslims get to voice their opinion and then we get cut off.

    May 17, 2008 at 1:06 am |
  14. Andrew

    Fun Facts to ponder. I like history. Like this one part about a people rising up to throw off their oppressors. They were fighting the best military in the world the outlook was grim. They did things like road side ambushes. And resorted to other forms of terrorism when they lacked the will or forces to fight traditionally. They even began jailing anyone who sympathized with the enemy in inhuman dungeons. Guess who these people were? The American Revolutionaries fighting the British for their Independence. But hey why would i expect people to know their own damn history. Oh and another thing. I don't either side is right in this. I mean Israeli's fire tow missiles into pack city streets, tare down Palestinian homes, and the last time they went to Gaza to stop the rockets they killed as many members of Hamas as they did civilians. So neither of them can claim to be any good. To liken this to history simply read about the eastern front in WWII both sides gave up all shreds of decency to slaughter their enemy in the name of their own brands of justice by any and all means necessary.

    May 17, 2008 at 12:04 am |
  15. andrew stromotich

    people are wondering about the Palestinians keeping fighting and loosing but never quit. It is so simple “one never quit his land and always seeks justice for his “dead, tortured and raped” relatives”.

    true mohammed, same reason for the warsaw ghetto uprising

    May 16, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  16. Jim, Oregon

    Another unfinished job by the Bush Administration! New leadership is Obama.

    May 16, 2008 at 6:57 pm |
  17. Jane, Detroit, MI

    It's time to give Israel up for adoption. She's not our problem anymore.

    May 16, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  18. Paris

    Jim you are so wrong I don't know where to start.

    Shaukat, it is always easier to blame others than taking responsibility.
    The innocents are being killed on both sides and they are graphic on both sides.
    The rockets that are falling into Israel are also killing women and children but the questions is, is that the solution?
    I don’t think so. Again we are all human and have the same right and same responsibility to make our lives better.
    It is about choices we make.

    May 16, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  19. Paris

    With all due respect the land is for the people not the other way.
    If the fight is killing and making the people miserable why continue?
    Where you can focus all that effort in rebuilding and educating and becoming a prospers nation.
    Why not use the technology to better the future of your nation through peace instead of killing them.
    Is it logical to go on for another 60 years and continue killing each other and innocent people?
    Why not accept that all humans are created by god and equal.
    Why can’t Palestinians and Israelis start loving one another?

    Why can’t we start again?

    May 16, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
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