Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden described President Barack Obama as “powerless” to stop the war in Afghanistan and threatened to step up guerrilla warfare there in a new audiotape released to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.
In the 11-minute tape, addressed to the American people, bin Laden said Obama is only following the warlike policies of his predecessor George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney and he urged Americans to “liberate” themselves from the influence of “neo-conservatives and the Israeli lobby.”
The tape was posted on Islamic militant Web sites two days after the eighth anniversary of the 2001 suicide plane hijackings. The terror leader usually addresses Americans in a message timed around the date of the attacks, which sparked the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan the same year, and then in Iraq two years later.
Bin Laden said Americans had failed to understand that al-Qaida carried out the attacks in retaliation for U.S. support for Israel. If America reconsiders its alliance with the Jewish state, al-Qaida will respond on “sound and just bases.”
The Saudi construction magnate’s son-turned “holy warrior” and his deputies have frequently sought to wrap al-Qaida in the Palestinian cause, seeking to draw support in the Arab world, where the issue is one of the public’s top concerns.
Al-Qaida has also sought to depict Obama as no different from Bush, who was widely despised in the Arab world for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and his close support of Israel. Obama has won greater popularity in the region, giving a landmark speech in Cairo in June, moving to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq and taking a somewhat harder stance on Israel in the peace process.
“If you end the war (in Afghanistan), so let it be,” bin Laden said. “But if it is otherwise, all we will do is continue the war of attrition against you on all possible axes.”
“You are waging a hopeless and losing war for the benefit of others, a war the end of which is not visible on the horizon,” he said, according to a translation of the tape Monday by SITE Intelligence Group, a terrorist-monitoring firm, and by The Associated Press.
Bin Laden, who is believed to be in hiding in the Afghan-Pakistan border region, said the current White House is merely following the Bush-Cheney strategy to “promote the previous policies of fear to market the interest of big companies.”
When Obama retained the Bush administration’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates, “reasonable people knew that Obama is a powerless man who will not be able to end the war as he promised,” bin Laden said.
Bin Laden devoted much of his address to discussing U.S. connections with Israel and castigated Americans for failing to understand that the issue was behind al-Qaida’s animosity. As he often does in his addresses, he cited books by American scholars and others that he said support his claim. Such citations also serve to show he keeps close watch on current events and media despite being a fugitive in a war zone.
“The delay in your knowing those causes has cost you a lot without any result whatsoever,” he said. “This position of yours, combined with some other injustices, pushed us to undertake the events of (Sept. 11).”
“Ask yourselves to determine your position: Is your security, your blood, your children, your money, your jobs, your homes, your economy, and your reputation dearer to you than the security of the Israelis, their children and their economy?” he said.
If Americans realized the extent of the suffering “suffering from the injustice of the Jews … you will realize that both our nations are victims of the policies of the White House,” which he described as “a hostage” to interest groups and companies.
The message was issued late Sunday by al-Qaida’s media wing, Al-Sahab, in a video in which the audiotape plays over a still picture of bin Laden. IntelCenter, another company that monitors terrorist propaganda, said the message is the 49th release by Al-Sahab in 2009. Al-Sahab is averaging one release every five days so far in 2009, IntelCenter said.