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Messages to the World  The Statements of Osama Bin Laden:

Ed Bruce Lawrence, Professor of Religion at Duke University, assisted by James Howarth, (MA in Arab linguistics)                                                                     

Book Review By N. Kollerstrom, PHD

Professor Bruce Lawrence dismissed a ‘bin Laden’ audiotape of January 2006, occurring shortly after his book was published, as bogus, and as having been brewed up by ‘Pakistani authorities.’ (this is the one Robert Fisk averred was ‘almost certainly genuine’ www.truthout.org/cgi-bin/artman/exec/view.cgi/48/17100). Arabic and Islamic expert Dr Kevin Barrett goes a step further[1]:

     ‘Every “Bin Laden” statement since 2001 has been blatantly bogus. The last we heard from the real Bin Laden came in his post-9/11 statements to Pakistani journalists: "I stress that I have not carried out this act, which appears to have been carried out by individuals with their own motivation... I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States... I had no knowledge of these attacks..."

       Then on December 13th, 2001, as George Bush was whining about the “outrageous conspiracy theories” that were spreading like wildfire, the first and shoddiest of the “Bin Laden speaks from beyond the grave” tapes appeared. The video’s sound and picture quality were horrible. It showed a big guy with a black beard, doing a passable imitation of Bin Laden’s voice, claiming foreknowledge, if not responsibility, for the 9/11 attacks, and chortling over their success. The trouble was, the big guy clearly was not Bin Laden. He was at least 40 or 50 pounds heavier, and his facial features were obviously different.

        The “Fatty Bin Laden” tape was widely ridiculed, and I have yet to meet an informed observer who considers it authentic…But the media let the fraud pass without asking the hard questions: Why was the US government waving this blatantly fake “confession” video in our faces?

       Perhaps due to the widespread hilarity evoked by “Fatty Bin Laden,” the next “Osama from beyond the grave” message had no images—it was an audio tape delivered to al-Jazeera in fall, 2002. The CIA verified it as authentic, and then got a rotten egg in the face when the world’s leading voice identification experts at IDIAP in Switzerland reported that “the message was recorded by an impostor.”’ 

I reckon that this position-statement by Barrett is the most important and valuable we have on this subject at the present time. To quibble on a couple of his points, the fake OBL video appeared in November, and it was the Pentagon’s English ‘translation’ that was released on December 13th; and the Swiss Institute for Perceptual Intelligence in Lausanne reported, in November 2002, that the voice on that November video was not that of OBL – it had not analyzed any further message.   

But, turning to more important matters, if Barrett is right – as I have earlier argued [2] – where does that leave the majority of the  ‘messages,’ over a dozen of them, contained in the Lawrence book? And, how come the book makes no mention whatsoever of the surely-fake OBL tape? This is after all the one OBL tape that all the world has heard about. That seems a very odd omission.  

The book gives every appearance of being careful and scholarly, advising us that the two dozen statements here assembled have ‘all been accepted as genuine by a majority of the experts and officials who have examined them.’ So, how come the categorical statements which OBL made after 9/11, dissociating himself from the event, have all been omitted from this book? Instead, we are presented with the picture of a mind utterly wicked and depraved, which glorifies in the terror, praises the hijackers, endorses civilian massacre, wants to start a war of civilisation – and, does all this in the name of Islam! Plus, this embodiment of evil had a remarkable knack of synchronising his releases with key statements by Bush and Blair about their war on terror. Readers will have to decide for themselves which is, or was, the real Osama bin Laden.  

Did he die five years ago, in the Tora Bora caves? Yes, of course he did, and his funeral in Pakistan was on or close to December 16th, 2001, with his will dated 14th December, that also being the date of his final radio transmission. We now go through the disputed statements which he may, or may not, have made in the wake of 9/11. There are five 9/11-relevant statements of his, which I have (rightly or wrongly) reckoned to be genuine, here given Roman numerals. 

I.   Sept 12th, 2001 a Pakistani newspaper reported OBL’s first denial of involvement in 9/11 (Pravda report)[3] 

II.  On Sept 16th, a message was faxed by OBL’s assistant Abdul Samad to the Pakistani-based Afghan Islamic Press, a private news agency, and broadcast by Al-Jazeera: ‘The US is pointing the finger at me, but I categorically state that I have not done this.’ It added, ‘Those who have done it, they have done it in their personal interest. I’m living in Afghanistan. I’m a follower of Amir Ul-Momineem [Omar] who does not allow me to participate in such activities.’[4] He did not have the means by which to organize the attacks, OBL declared, and he explained the many restrictions placed on his contacts with the outside world by Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.  ‘It was the first time that bin Laden had issued an official personal denial of any involvement in the attacks. Previous denials had been issued by unidentified aides or by officials of the Taliban,’ explained Islam Online.

Neither of these statements appear in the Lawrence book. A full account of the September 16th statement would surely have been rather helpful. But, perhaps the Afghan Islamic Press was not good enough for Lawrence’s book. 

III   September 28th an interview with ‘Ummaut, the Urdu-language, Karachi-based Pakistani daily newspaper, published on October 16th, contained these words of wisdom:

‘I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children and other people. Such a practice is forbidden even in the course of a battle. It is the United States, which is perpetrating every maltreatment on women, children and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam….

‘The U.S. has no friends, nor does it want to keep any because the prerequisite of friendship is to come to the level of the friend or consider him at par with you. America does not want to see anyone equal to it. It expects slavery from others. Therefore, other countries are either its slaves or subordinates. However, our case is different. We have pledged slavery to God Almighty alone … Most of the world nations upholding their freedom are the religious ones, which are the enemies of the United States, or the U.S. itself considers them as its enemies…I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed.

‘The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the U.S. system, but are dissenting against it…persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity … There are intelligence agencies in the U.S., which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year. This [funding issue] was not a big problem during the existence of the former Soviet Union but after that the budget of these agencies has been in danger. They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Usama and Taleban and then this incident happened. You see, the Bush Administration approved a budget of 40 billion dollars. Where will this huge amount go? It will be provided to the same agencies, which need huge funds and want to exert their importance. Now they will spend the money for their expansion and for increasing their importance. I will give you an example. Drug smugglers from all over the world are in contact with the U.S. secret agencies. These agencies do not want to eradicate narcotics cultivation and trafficking because their importance will be diminished. The people in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Department are encouraging drug trade so that they could show performance and get millions of dollars worth of budget. General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat. In the same way, whether it is President Bush or any other U.S. President, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who carried out the attacks.

‘I have already said that we are not hostile to the United States. We are against the [U.S. Government] system, which makes other nations slaves of the United States, or forces them to mortgage their political and economic freedom. This system is totally in control of the American-Jews, whose first priority is Israel, not the United States. It is clear that the American people are themselves the slaves of the Jews and are forced to live according to the principles and laws laid by them…

‘The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which surprises us but it reflects on what is in their hearts, and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda. They become afraid of it and begin to cause harm to themselves. Terror is the most dreaded weapon in modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people.’ [5]

Clearly, this major OBL statement could not be included in Lawrence’s book. That would not do at all! It would not generate the correct hate-and-fear responses - and might even have hindered his finding a publisher. I’ve quoted this at length to give a flavour of how the real OBL viewed things. Let’s be grateful to Carol Valentine (of the WACO memorial museum) for holding onto this statement, because websites with maybe-genuine OBL statements have a strong propensity to vanish.

IV.    On September 24th, 2001  OBL wrote an  open letter  to fellow Muslims in Pakistan, saying ‘We urge our brothers, the Muslims of Pakistan, to use all their resources to combat the American crusader forces and prevent them from invading Pakistan and Afghanistan.’ He prayed that Allah would help to ‘destroy the Judeo-Christian crusade which was attacking the land of Pakistan and Afghanistan.’ This letter, which is cited in the Lawrence book, made no allusion to 9/11 and its rhetoric was basically defensive, i.e. concerned with repelling invaders.  

   On October 7th, as the bombing of Afghanistan began, a video appeared, cited by Lawrence as a pre-recorded OBL broadcast, enthusing about how great 9/11 had been. It was broadcast by al-Jazeera ‘some hours after Bush had addressed the nation in Washington, and some minutes after Blair had spoken in Britain.’ (p103)  Uh-huh. 

‘God has struck America at its Achilles heel and destroyed its greatest buildings, praise and blessings to Him. America has been filled with terror from north to south and from east to west, praise and blessings to God…. So when God almighty granted success to one of the vanguard, He opened the way for them to destroy America utterly.’

The monster here makes its appearance - the only person glad to see 9/11. Did anyone see a copy of this video? This message has to be fake. 

V.  November 3rd, 2001.

OBL’s impassioned and rather moving statement concerning ‘Crusader wars’ emerged on November 3rd, 2001, and is given in the Lawrence book (a letter delivered to the Al-Jazeera’s Kabul office). It describes how Muslims worldwide have been suffering from attack by Christian-Zionist forces. ‘These battles cannot be seen in isolation from each other, but must be seen as part of the great series of fierce and ugly Crusader wars against Islam. Let us investigate whether this war against Afghanistan that broke out a few days ago is a single and unique one or if it is a link to a long series of crusader wars against the Islamic world.’ It is a call to defend Muslim nations, making no defence of, or claim to authorship of, 9/11 [6]. It describes how the world is being divided into Muslim versus non-Muslim nations, but it does not commend this division.  

   November 7th   This was, Lawrence averred, OBL’s ‘only post-9/11 newspaper interview.’ Was it? It appeared in Urdu in the Pakistani daily, Ausuf on Nov 7th.  The interviewer starts by alluding to the Al-Jazeera videotape of OBL (i.e., that on October 7th). OBL’s approval there expressed for the 9/11 event is discussed – which was a ‘revenge attack’ upon the US, he explained. By chance, this interview emerged on the very day as Bush and Blair met at the White House, to discuss military strategy and the war on terror. OBL here denied that he had had a kidney operation in a Dubai hospital (as he surely had). 

Dec 26, 2001, a video

Pre-recorded for al-Jazeera, it praised ‘The blessed strikes against global unbelief … These blessed, successful strikes…With God’s grace the awakening has begun.’ This recording, intended to be shown on or near to Christmas day, was ‘his most extended and passionate celebration’ (Lawrence) of the hijackers of 9/11.  

VII. January 31, 2002: an interview with OBL, supposedly made on 20 October 2001 by a journalist Taysir Alluni, was published. In it he extolled 9/11, denied that it was a terrorist act, praised the hijackers who had ‘shifted the battle to the heart of the United States,’ and took credit for inciting the event. He averred that the ‘defeat of America’ could be achieved ‘more easily’ than that of the Soviet Union, and unfolded a vision of nightmare horror: ‘So as they kill us, without a doubt we have to kill them, until we obtain a balance of terror,’ affirming the eye-for-an-eye killing of innocents. 

The real OBL’s view on the killing of noncombatants, his horror of slaughter of women and children - as expressed in his above-quoted September 28th Ummaut interview – had been expressed in an earlier November 1996 statement (Lawrence, p.39, Chapter 4)

We also have been hit with some of the traces of this campaign as we were accused of funding terrorism, and being members of an international terrorist organisation. Their aims in making these allegations were to place psychological pressure on the Mujahideen and their supporters so that they would forsake the obligation of Jihad and the resistance of oppression and American Israeli occupation of Islamic sacred lands. However, our gratitude to God, their campaign was not successful, as terrorising the American occupiers is a religious and logical obligation…As for their accusations of terrorising the innocent, the children, and the women, these are in the category "accusing others with their own affliction in order to fool the masses". The evidence overwhelmingly shows America and Israel killing the weaker men, women, and children in the Muslim world and elsewhere…Then, killing hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq, and whose numbers (of dead) continue to increase as a result of the sanctions. Despite the continuing American occupation of the country of the two sacred mosques, America continues to claim that it is upholding the banner of freedom and humanity, whilst these deeds which they did, you would find that the most ravenous of animals would not descend to…As for what America accuses us of, of killing innocent people, they have not been able to offer any evidence, despite the magnitude of their expenditure on their intelligence services…Similar is our history with respect to our differences with the Saudi regime: all that has been proved is our joy at the killing of the American soldiers in Riyadh and Khobar.”’ 

       Later, fake messages also quoted in this book, with no shadow of doubt being expressed, included the Al-Jazeera 15 April 2004 message in the wake of the Madrid bombing, giving a warning to the people of Europe – enabling Blair to take a ‘tough stance’ rejecting it; then, on 29th October 2004, a video (with a rather bored, lookalike actor just reading the text) which handed the US election to Bush.  

Its depressing the way Robert fisk keeps believing in every from-beyond-the-grave fake OBL message that appears. Opposing this nonsense we need to seek out the real identity of this ambiguous character. Or, has his real identity already vanished irrevocably into that refractive, splintered, intelligence-constructed, hall of mirrors? 

1.    www.mujca.com/osama.htm

2.    www.nineeleven.co.uk/archive/OBL.htm

3.    http://web.archive.org/web/20010913191943/http://english.pravda.ru/accidents/2001/09/12/14910.html

4.   www.islamonline.net/English/News/2001-09/17/article17.shtml

5.   www.public-action.com/911/oblintrv.html

6.  http://users.skynet.be/terrorism/html/laden_statement_3.htm

 

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