Thursday, March 20, 2008

America is in Good Company: Bin Laden Slams Pope, Too

Today, Al-Jazeera broadcast another audio tape from Osama bin Laden.

New bin Laden Tape, Pretty Much the Same Old Message

  • "Iraq is the perfect base to set up the jihad to liberate Palestine."
  • "Palestine and its people have been suffering from too much bitterness for almost a century now on the hands of the Christians and the Jews. And both parties didn't take Palestine from us by negotiations and dialog, but with arms and fire, and this is the only way to take it back."
Was it Really bin Laden? It sounded like bin Laden. It was introduced as bin Laden. It made the same points that bin Laden has made before. Chances are, it is bin Laden.

Two Days, Two bin Laden Tapes

That was today, March 20, 2008. It's been a busy day for bin Laden watchers. He released another message yesterday: the fifth anniversary of the coalition attack on Iraq that ended Saddam Hussein's reign.

Wednesday, bin Laden had a few words to say about those Danish cartoons: the ones that were rude about Mohammed. Osama bin Laden said that Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, "the crownless king in Riyadh," could have kept the re-publication from happening "if it mattered to him." It sounds like King Abdullah isn't on bin Laden's 'preferred' list.

Now, here's the real news. Just when all the best and brightest people were convinced that Bush was to blame for all the unpleasantness in the Middle East, and elsewhere, it turns out that it's the Pope's fault. According to bin Laden.

Osama bin Laden said that those anti-Islam cartoons are part of a larger plot, and "came in the framework of a new crusade in which the Pope of the Vatican has played a large, lengthy role."

I suppose I can see bin Laden's point. CNN reported that "Pope Benedict is scheduled to visit the United States next month, with scheduled stops at the White House, the United Nations and Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers stood until al Qaeda's attack."

A sufficiently fevered imagination could see the upcoming visit as an indication of some sort of conspiratorial role in a "crusade."

Reality Check: Pope Benedict XVI and Islam

Never mind that, when this set of cartoons showed up in a Danish newspaper in 2006, the Vatican called them an "unacceptable provocation," and added that freedom of expression "cannot entail the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers."

Actually, in practice, the right to freedom of expression can be used to excuse some appallingly crude attacks on the beliefs of others: the point is that it shouldn't.

Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden's 'crusader' Pope is scheduled to meet with Muslim scholars and religious leaders this November, in the Vatican. I hope it goes well. Many Muslims didn't like it, back in 2006, when Benedict XVI quoted some definitely non-pc statements by a 14th century Byzantine emperor.

At the time, the Pope was making the point that: "To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".1

Considering the extraordinarily thin skin of so many Muslims, and their apparent lack of appreciation for non-Islamic views, I suppose Benedict XVI is somewhat to blame for both making such a radical statement, and using a distinctly blunt 14th century ruler's words to illustrate it.

"In a 2006 speech in Germany that angered many in the Muslim world, Benedict cited a medieval text that characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as 'evil and inhuman,' particularly 'his command to spread by the sword the faith.'

"The pope later said he was "deeply sorry" about the reactions his remarks sparked and stressed that they did not reflect his own opinions." FOXNews (March 20, 2008)

Two Days, Two bin Laden Tapes? Does it Mean Anything?

Apart from the claim that the Pope is behind the 'crusade against Islam,' there really isn't much new here.

I think it's interesting to note that bin Laden says that "Iraq is the perfect base to set up the jihad to liberate Palestine." The fact is, Iraq is in a very central position in the Middle East: and has a great deal of oil. Now that Iraq doesn't have a ruler with a taste for solid-gold toilet fixtures, and houses to match, that wealth could be used for a great many things: including building Iraq into a strong, free nation; or outfitting an army of jihadists.

Given a choice, I'd prefer a strong, free, Iraq to either the 'good old days' of Hussein, or a well-quipped horde of terrorists.

Let's hope that American foreign policy doesn't include pulling the rug out from under Iraq's new government.

Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.
Related posts, on Islam, Christianity, Religion, Culture and the War on Terror.
1A transcript in English of the entire speech is available LECTURE OF THE HOLY FATHER - Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg - Faith, Reason and the University / Memories and Reflections (Tuesday, 12 September 2006).


Ottavio (Otto) Marasco said...

Another very good post...
I recall when the Catholic leader apologized adding that, (the quote) did not accurately reflect his personal feelings.

How can the Pope imply that Muslims were the creators of terrorism ... or so they cried....

Brian H. Gill said...

American Interests,


I hope that many Muslims, in common with people everywhere, weren't prepared by nature or training to be skeptical and cautious about sound bites and other kinds of incomplete information.

Islamic leaders, on the other hand, might be expected be a trifle more astute.

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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.