Bin Laden Tape Aimed at Europe
Friday, November 30, 2007
Osama bin Laden stepped up his recent public-relations offensive yesterday with the release of a new audiotape, in which the al-Qaeda leader called on Europeans to break with the United States by ending their military involvement in Afghanistan.
In his fifth taped message since August, bin Laden chided Europe for having "marched behind" Washington in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and accused the U.S.-led coalition of deliberately killing women and children "to break the enthusiasm of the Mujahideen."
"It is best for you to grab your politicians by the hand before they gather at the steps of the White House, and [try] to remove the oppression from the oppressed people," bin Laden said, according to a translation provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, a private company that tracks terrorist groups on the Web. The terrorist leader also predicted that the U.S.-led coalition will depart Afghanistan in defeat, "leaving the neighbors to settle their accounts with each other."
U.S. intelligence officials said the tape appears authentic, based on an initial analysis, and does not seem to convey a specific threat. They said the recent pattern of frequent broadcast messages from bin Laden and his aides appears aimed at bolstering support for the group among its scattered followers.
"It is clearly an attempt to keep the focus on Western targets, in this case, Europe," said one intelligence official who had reviewed the tape and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitive nature of the ongoing analysis. "It is an attempt by bin Laden to keep his message in front of his supporters and the world."
The new tape was aired on the al-Jazeera television network three days after al-Qaeda's video production company, As-Sahab, announced the imminent release of a bin Laden message that would convey to Western countries the "reality of losing their war."
Speaking about the tape hours before its release, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said NATO governments will not be deterred from their commitment to the Afghanistan campaign. "I think our NATO allies understand quite clearly what is at stake in Afghanistan, as well as elsewhere around the world, in fighting the war on terror," he said.
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.