Thursday, March 20, 2008
Bin Laden Who?
Question: When Osama Bin Laden speaks, who’s listening? That’s what we want to know as bin Laden releases not one, but two audio messages this week.
This image taken from a militant Web site shows an undated photo of Osama bin Laden as part of an audiotaped speech posted late Wednesday.
In the first, released on an al Qaeda Web site, he talks of a new crusade against Islam as evidenced by the publication of Danish cartoons that ridicule the Prophet Mohammed. He says, “Although our tragedy in your killing of our women and children is a very great one, it paled when you went overboard in your unbelief and freed yourselves of the etiquettes of dispute and fighting and went to the extent of publishing these insulting drawings. This is the greater and more serious tragedy, and reckoning for it will be more severe.”
In the second, an audiotape broadcast by Al Jazeera, bin Laden called on Muslims to keep up the fight against U.S. forces in Iraq as a path to "liberating Palestine." He says: "My speech is about the Gaza siege and the way to retrieve it and the rest of Palestine from the hands of the Zionist enemy," Bin Laden adds. "Our enemies did not take it by negotiations and dialogue but with fire and iron. And this is the way to get it back."
Neither message could be independently authenticated although security services around the world are now trying to assess if the messages are the recorded words of Osama bin Laden and when he might have issued his warnings.
Just a few months ago, a message from bin Laden would have rated among the top stories in any newspaper or on any newscast. Now, that’s just not the case. Most news organisations reported the messages but there didn’t seem a need for in-depth analysis or pundit panels about the imminent threat. Even security services seem less alarmed by bin Laden’s messages with one Italian security source telling Reuters.com: “Obviously we can't ignore it but at this moment that doesn't mean the threat is being taken seriously," the source said.
It gets you thinking. We debate this here at CNN but we’ve come up with no real definitive answers as of yet. When we cover bin Laden’s messages, do we give him too much credibility? Or given his iconic position as the head of al Qaeda, are we not taking his messages seriously enough?
But most importantly, to those who still see bin Laden as a guiding force for jihad, how do they interpret his messages? We’re still looking for those answers, and as always looking for your comments.
By Paula Newton, CNN’s International Security Correspondent.
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