Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Osama bin Laden:
Something Old, Something New

Excerpts from Osama bin Laden's latest audio tape played on Al-Jazeera television yesterday: along with a still photo of the Islamic philosopher and apparent spiritual leader of Al Qaeda.

There was a surprise in the excerpts, and something that wasn't so surprising.

First, the non-surprise.

"It is the duty of the people of Islam in the Sudan and its environs, especially the Arabian Peninsula, to perform jihad against the Crusader invaders and wage armed rebellion to remove those who let them in," a translation and transcript provided by IntelCenter. (Hats off to the Boston Herald for telling where they got the information. IntelCenter monitors extremist Web sites.)

Bin Laden is talking about U.N. 'peacekeepers' in Darfur, trying to slow down the genocide there. This 'death to the peacekeepers' thing is hardly news. Bin Laden deputy, Ayman al-Zawhiri, did a jihad cal for Darfur in a September 20 video. Bin Laden
did about the same thing back in 2006, telling his followers to fight a proposed U.N. force in Sudan.

Another tape, another jihad: Not really news.

An article in the Sudan Tribune pointed out something unusual in the latest audio recording released by bin Laden. "In the sections of the message broadcast Monday, bin Laden took the highly uncharacteristic step of acknowledging that al-Qaida had made mistakes and chiding followers for not uniting their ranks — a reference to the squabbles among various insurgent groups in Iraq.

" 'Everybody can make a mistake, but the best of them are those who admit their mistakes,' " he said. "Mistakes have been made during holy wars but mujahideen have to correct their mistakes."

Osama bin Laden's very unusual criticism of his followers may be more than "the squabbles among various insurgent groups in Iraq." It could be that Al Qaeda and company in Iraq did such an effective job bombing and beheading their way out of the hearts and minds of Iraqis, that bin Laden believed that a public reprimand was called for.

It's not good news for Al Qaeda, when an AP article says, "October is on course to record the second consecutive decline in U.S. military and Iraqi civilian deaths and Americans commanders say they know why: the U.S. troop increase and an Iraqi groundswell against al-Qaida and Shiite militia extremists."

Major General Rick Lynch pointed out that Shiites and Sunnis have joined Americans in defending Iraq: 20,000 "Concerned Citizens" in the past four months.

Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.