Bin Laden Message: Boost for Bush?
Osama bin Laden's latest audiotape, threatening the United States and offering truce, is both a message to the Arab and Muslim world and a boost for President Bush, according to reports in several international media outlets.
In bin Laden's native Saudi Arabia, the Arab News said the tape was primarily addressed to Muslims and Arabs: "He's saying that [al Qaeda's] capacity to continue the struggle is the same as it was before," said Amr Hamzawy, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "He's saying Al-Qaeda can move beyond Afghanistan and Iraq. He's also addressing Department of Defense and State Department's statements that Al-Qaeda can no longer operate as it did in the past few years." Hamzawy shrugged off the alleged threats to the US. "This is a normal component of these types of messages, and it's nothing new."
Wayne White, former deputy director of the State Department's Middle East intelligence bureau, told the Arab News that bin Laden's message will reinforce President Bush's conception of the global "war on terrorism."
"The thing about the alleged truce is that the more Bin Laden continues to focus on Iraq, the more he plays into the administration claim that Iraq is the principal battleground in the war against terror. The administration has repeatedly used this to justify the invasion, after previous claims did not pan out," White said.
The fugitive fundamentalist's "chilling and visceral" threat to launch Sept. 11-like attacks in the United States will probably bring "a boost in support for President George W Bush," the BBC said.
"The commander-in-chief has been under intense pressure in recent weeks, accused of trampling on civil liberties in pursuit of terror suspects."
"His defence has been that America is a nation at war....So Bin Laden's latest threats to launch new attacks on the US will only serve to underline this argument," the BBC concluded.
The Guardian saw "a political coup of the highest order" in Bin Laden's communication that will also serve to help the Bush administration. "The most wanted man in the world has proved again that he has an unrivalled ability to cock a snook at the American-led global manhunt against him," the editors say, adding that bin Laden's threats "will play directly into the hands of those who insist that security must overwhelm all other considerations."
"It should not," they say. The Guardian says Prime Minister Tony Blair's government needs to address "public anxiety about possible British involvement in the transport of terror suspects to third countries where they risk torture. ... Bin Laden's intervention should not let it off the hook."
The Times of London suggested that the tape's release "appeared to be designed to counter suggestions that the airstrike in Pakistan last week had further disabled the al-QED leadership."
"Pakistani intelligence agents are claiming that four militants, including Midhat Mursi -- who trained Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and a generation of British extremists -- were among those killed on Friday," the paper reported.
"Mursi, who has a $5 million bounty on his head, ran the AL-QED Daunt camp in Afghanistan, where Western recruits included the London university student Zaccarias Moussaoui, named by the FBI as the twentieth hijacker in the attacks of September 11, 2001."
The conservative Daily Telegraph said that that bin Laden's "rant" was less important than Secretary of State Condoles Rice's Candi's announcement of a "once-in-a-generation overhaul of US diplomacy."
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