Osama bin Laden boasted that the invasion of Iraq has bogged down the United States in a hopeless war that advances al Qaeda's recruitment goals and bin Laden's aim of bankrupting the U.S. economy, according to a translation of the full text of the terrorist leader's remarks on a videotape that surfaced last week.
"The thinkers and perceptive ones from among the Americans warned Bush before the war" about the dangers of invading Iraq, bin Laden said on the tape, according to a U.S. government transcript released yesterday. "But the darkness of the black gold [oil] blurred his vision. . . . The war went ahead, the death toll rose, the American economy bled, and Bush became embroiled in the swamps of Iraq that threatened his future."
The tape, bin Laden's first videotaped appearance since September 2003, was given to the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television network, which released a seven-minute version Friday. It showed bin Laden saying, among other things, that Americans would be held responsible for electing any president who persecutes Muslims.
Yesterday the network released the entire 18-minute tape, and U.S. officials issued a translation of bin Laden's entire message.
On the tape, the Saudi millionaire brags that he is succeeding beyond his dreams in destabilizing the U.S. economy and bankrupting the U.S. government, asserting that President Bush is easily manipulated into taking military and security steps that harm American interests.
The results of the U.S. war in Iraq, he said, "have been by the grace of Allah positive and enormous, and have by all standards exceeded all expectations."
"The policy of the White House that demands the opening of war fronts to keep busy their various corporations -- whether they be working in the field of arms or oil or reconstruction -- has helped al Qaeda to achieve these enormous results," bin Laden said. "And so it has appeared to some analysts and diplomats that the White House and we are playing as one team toward the economic goals of the United States, even if the intentions differ."
Bin Laden added, "Bush's hands are stained with the blood of all of those killed from both sides, all for the sake of oil and keeping their private companies in business," referring at one point to the Halliburton energy services company, which Vice President Cheney led before his election.
Bin Laden also suggested that the huge sums of money Washington spends on homeland security and the military serve his agenda of weakening the U.S. economy.
"All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration," bin Laden said. "All that we have to do is to send two mujaheddin to the farthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written 'al Qaeda' in order to make the generals race there, to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses, without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
He added: "We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy." He noted remarks by counterterrorism experts that al Qaeda's expenses in attacking America are a tiny fraction of the cost of Washington's counterterrorism efforts. "Every dollar of al Qaeda defeated a million [U.S.] dollars . . . besides the loss of a huge number of jobs.
"As for the size of the economic deficit, it has reached record, astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars. Even more dangerous and bitter for America is that the mujaheddin recently forced Bush to resort to emergency funds to continue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is evidence of the success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan."
In the address, bin Laden also imagined the nearly 3,000 victims of the attack on the World Trade Center reflecting during their last moments on their guilty feelings about U.S. foreign policy. "They say, 'How mistaken we were to have allowed the White House to implement its aggressive foreign policies against the weak,' " bin Laden said.
Researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.