Our old friend Osama bin-Laden has released a new audio tape on the internet in the form of a video tape showing a still image of Bin Laden from an older video, with the audio message playing in the background. It came from al-Qaeda's media arm, As-Shahab an druns about 56 minutes.
You can download it here in the original Arabic. ( hat tip to the magnificent LauraMansfield.com).
The new tape, titled "The Way To Contain Conspiracies" dates from sometime after September of this year, as it mentions the September 2007 death of Abu Risha as well as a reference to the Annapolis conference, but does not mention the Bhutto assassination, which means it was probably produced in mid -December. And it has a number of clear indications of where the global jihad's direction might be headed, especially in Iraq.
In the tape bin-Laden claims that "America seeks, alongside its agents in the region, to create an allied government ... that would accept in advance the presence of major U.S. bases in Iraq and give the Americans all they wish of Iraq's oil." He warned Sunni Muslims in Iraq not to fight al Qaeda, or to participate in Iraq's unity government, saying that those who do are "apostates", saying they are "trading away their religion for the sake of mortal life." He said it was al-Qaeda's duty to oppose and destroy a national Iraqi unity government of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
He also told Iraqis not to join or cooperate with the Awakening Councils which are predominantly Sunni tribal police funded by the US military to fight al Qaeda.
"I advise those who follow the path of temptation should wash out this disgrace by repentance," he said. "This participation [in the Awakening Councils] is a great apostasy and sedition that will lead them to Hell."
Osama also said the Iraqi government was also meant to help Washington "fully dominate" the region with the assistance of the Saudis.
"The government of Riyadh is still playing its wicked roles," he said, describing Saudi Arabia's King Abduallah as the United States' "chief agent."
He thus seems to corroberate with something I've been saying for quite some time now, and encountered a fair amount of hostlity for...although I would differ with Osama that the Saudis are our `agents'. The Saudis have their own jihad going on, involving the subversion of the west and the radicalization of its Muslims using petrodollars, as well as the new Saudi arrangement with Iran. And if al-Qaeda hadn't attacked them and had been content to respect the established order of things, Osama and the Saudis would still be on quite good terms.
Although most of the tape dealt with Iraq, a part of it dealt with Israel, and in extremely direct language.
Osama bin-Laden directly threatened to expand jihad to Israel, threatening "blood for blood, destruction for destruction."
"We intend to liberate Palestine, the whole of Palestine from the (Jordan) river to the sea....We will not recognize even one inch for the Jews in the land of Palestine as other Muslim leaders have," he said, a direct reference to Annapolis and a superb incitement to wavering al-Qaeda sympathizers, linking the US, the Saudis and the Iraqi Unity government and its supporters with the hated Jews.And given that al-Qaeda already has ties with Hamas and Islamic Jihad and cells in Gaza and Sinai, this could also be a signal that al-Qaeda is now ready to become more directly involved in the fighting against Israel.
As far Iraq goes, I think this tape signals that a new terrorist offensive is in the works.
Shaker al-Abessi was the commander of the Fatah al-Islam, an al-Qaeda offshoot who were responsible for the fighting with the Lebanese army from the Badr al-Nahr Palestinian camp near Tripoli this summer. The Lebanese army was only able to win that fight thanks to a massive infusion of US arms.
Al-Abessi is reportedly al-Qaeda's new commander in Iraq, the successor to al-Zarqawi and is building new forces with the idea of reversing US gains. Since al-Abessi and Fatah Al-Islam are also allied to the Syrians, he will probably have little problem getting across the Iraq-Syrian border with his top men.
Osama didn't say much about Pakistan in today's tape, but that is obviously another front in al-Qaeda's offensive against the West.
Bhutto's assassination means that Condi Rice's proposed shotgun wedding between Benazir Bhutto and President Musharraf is obviously not going to happen, but as I pointed out, it does put former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, head of the Islamist Pakistan Muslim League in the position of being the chief figure in the anti-Musharraf opposition and the main candidate for power sharing, rather than `liberals' in Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party.
Sharif is back in Pakistan from exile due to the direct intervention of the Saudis with Washington. Nawaz Sharif is noted for being highly critical of the US, a supporter of the idea of Pakistan being a part of the Islamist axis under sharia rather than a western ally and someone who openly connived with AQ Khan’s nuclear proliferation and hobnobbed with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Nevertheless, he's part of the Pakistani establishment, and should he become part of power sharing with Musharraf, of if his overtures to Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party are successful and they're able to throw Musharraf out of power, Pakistan would be drawn into the Islamist bloc and even minimal Pakistani cooperation against the Taliban and al-Qaeda would likely come to a halt.
By putting Bhutto out of the way, al-Qaeda is gambling that the destabilization of Pakistan or the ascendancy to power of a sympathetic regime is much more likely than a joining together of forces in Pakistan against al-Qaeda and the Taliban.