January 14th, 2009
01:47 PM ET

Osama bin Laden - distant but dangerous

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Octavia Nasr
Arab Affairs Editor

As the Israeli bombing of Gaza approaches its fourth week, and Arab leaders are unable to come up with a unified position on the situation there, al Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden, calls for HOLY WAR..

In an audio message released on various radical Islamist websites this morning, bin Laden said, "We call upon everyone to perform their personal duty of Jihad and recruit the youth to join the brigades of God against the Zionist crusaders and their agents in the region. Venting peacefully in street demonstrations won't help Gaza. Listening to the empty words of the United Nations Security Council won’t help either."

Bin Laden has been on the US' most wanted list since his involvement in the bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and the U-S response - the bombings of al Qaeda and Taliban outposts in Afghanistan, and overthrow of the Taliban government there - bin Laden has been on the run.

Some of his early messages were feared to be signals linked to attacks around the world. But the frequency of those messages has gone down dramatically in the past years. The last time we saw him, was in this video released around the US elections of 2004..

Today's message is audio only. It is full of references to current quotes from world leaders - including the French president and the finance secretaries of Spain and Germany - as well as some of Vice-President-elect Joe Biden's campaign remarks. But for the most part, he boasts of what he calls, "the resilience of Muslims" as he calls them to sacrifice their lives to save Gaza. He also speaks of what President-elect Obama is about to "inherit." He says, "Bush leaves his successor with the worst inheritance… Two long guerilla wars and no options. He either withdraws and faces military defeat, or carries on and drowns his nation in financial trouble."

A propaganda no doubt that experts don't think will help bin Laden's dwindling influence on the world scene. It carries however a clear message that Osama bin Laden is still alive, he's well informed about current events and able to deliver a message despite all the efforts to capture him and bring him to justice.

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Filed under: Octavia Nasr
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    I wonder how margainalized Osama is now that he has to spend most of his time and effort hiding rather than leading his followers. The lack of more frequent messages from him may indicate that he is not the all powerful leader he once was.

    January 14, 2009 at 9:28 pm |
  2. JC- Los Angeles

    With all due respect, Bin Laden is most certainly not distant but rather an unfortunate part of endless peoples heart and souls.

    January 14, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  3. Cindy

    Is Osama really still alive!? They could easily have someone pretend to be him on tape. No one has seen him in a while and all he puts out is audios now so I am just wondering?

    I don't think he has much influence at all any more so I don't think his little messages matter too much.


    January 14, 2009 at 2:10 pm |