Where’s OBL? More thoughts on the recording.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to finish reading Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars, so the OBL speech is interesting in that context. Having recently read Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilization, I feel like I could recite the evolution of Osama Bin Laden at length.
Alex has done a roundup of the major points from the recording – the shift to being issue-centered as opposed to being ideology-centered – is notable. I’ve re-read the transcript several times and what continues to surprise me is how up-to-date OBL seems to be. Given that he is rumoured to be dead, barely alive, alive and well, hiding out somewhere in Waziristan, isn’t it somewhat surprising that he seems to have access to recent publications, was able to hear/see US President Barack Obama’s Cairo speech, knows about opinion polls and new developments in the US…I know the quest to find OBL isn’t as fervent as it once was, but clearly, there’s a big intelligence failure happening somewhere.
And no, just because I’m Pakistani doesn’t mean I know where OBL is. A Syrian cab driver once asked me that and had quite the laugh imitating the Jordanian Mukhabarat calling me to get an update on his whereabouts.
Secondly, is OBL pandering to an American audience by trying to be sympathetic to them? From the translated text:
“This is has all been prescribed for you by the doctors Cheney and Bush as medicine for the events of September 11, yet, the bitterness and loss this has caused is worse than that of the events themselves.”
“Put the issue of your alliance with the Israelis up for debate and ask yourselves what your stance is: is your own security, blood, children, money, jobs, homes, economy, and reputation more important to you, or do you prefer the safety of the Israelis, their children, and economy?”
Thirdly, his primary concern is still the Afghanistan war, not Iraq, and unlike Zawahiri, he makes no mention of Pakistan at all. Doesn’t seem like he’s heard of the AfPak acronym yet.
Fourth, I really hope OBL doesn’t try and get in touch with Alex about the ‘nice eyes’ remark.