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Bin Laden audiotape is all about Israel

world Updated: Sep 15, 2009 00:27 IST

The Osama bin Laden audiotape released on several al-Qaeda-friendly websites was almost certainly the terrorist leader’s September 11 anniversary statement. However, as the website jihadica.com points out, many traditional sites like Faloja, Shumukh and Shouraa have been hacked and this probably led to the statement coming out two days’ late.

More interesting is that bin Laden has shifted the nature of his message. His last message, released in June, had warned the US about pursuing its policies in Pakistan. This time, the message is all about Israel.

Bin Laden argues the “two umma,” America and the Muslim world, are at war because of the manipulation of “the Israeli lobby and the multinational corporations”. He cites two books as proof: one called The Israel Lobby and the other which is probably Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

Bin Laden claims the primary reason for 9/11 has been the US support for Israel. This hardly fits in with his own statements in late 2001where he blamed broader US policies like supporting the Saudi royal family.

Al Qaeda’s leader seems to be trying to exploit recent polls showing waning US public for the Afghan war and friction between the Obama administration and Israel. His advisors, concludes counterterrorism expert Walid Phares, “have convinced bin Laden that it would be strategically preferable to single out one issue, the US-Israel relationship, and try to break it.”

Bin Laden is careful not to criticise Barack Obama, merely arguing he is being misled by his military advisors. He argues the US has only to liberate itself from the “Israel lobby” and the “neoconservatives” to end its war with al Qaeda. But as jihad watcher Daveed Gartenstein-Ross notes, al-Qaeda propaganda aimed at the West always “de-emphasise arguments and rhetoric about an existential conflict with the West.” Its messages directed at Islamicists is far less restrained.

The tape has yet to be authenticated. Given US intelligence has voiceprint-verified every one of the dozens that bin Laden has released over the past several years, such authentication can be expected.