Saturday, January 21, 2006

Osama, Democrats in agreement

A taped message from al Qaeda leader and mass murderer Osama bin Laden was aired Thursday on Al-Jazeera. In it, bin Laden demonstrated impressive familiarity with the talking points of U.S. liberals. As Mark Alexander writes, the tape "sounded as if it had been excerpted from recent anti-American rhetoric from Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid and other Demo-gogues." Indeed, Osama and leading Democrats seem to express the same foreign policy goals, opposing both a moralistic U.S. policy intent on spreading freedom and justice and the stubborn willingness of America to defend its people from being murdered by foreigners. They both rely on death tolls, opinion polls, and plenty of misleading claims and outright lies in order to influence Americans to give up on freedom in Iraq and surrender to terrorists. Also, they both like to say that President Bush is evil. Never has a political alignment of this sort been more predictable.

But Osama's message, directed at the American media, seems curious to me. One interpretation is that it does, indeed, demonstrate some kind of desperation. Certainly, al Qaeda has been seriously crippled since 2001, and they've been further set back by democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Alexander says that Osama's label as "leader" of al Qaeda should be used tentatively, "because when you are living in a rat hole, and the National Security Agency can detect, in real time, any electronic communication between you and your terrorist cadre, while the CIA, DoD and a few other folks are on the ground capturing or killing anyone associated with you, leadership can be, well, a problem."

Interestingly, bin Laden added a plug for William Blum's anti-American book Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower into his comments, prompting the book to shoot up the sales charts at Amazon.com. Blum expressed appreciation for the famous terrorist's endorsement and said he was glad that Osama "shares those views" with him. Again, it's a predictable political alignment.

Incidentally, in response to bin Laden's apparent Oprah-esque power to influence book sales, Scott Ott has this hilarious piece of satire at ScrappleFace, called "Bin Laden Starts Book Club, Vows to Crush Oprah."

An excerpt:
"My mission is to make this the biggest book club in the world and get people reading great books again,"” said Mr. Bin Laden on a reel-to-reel tape recording released today. "This is the first step in our ultimate plan to crush the billionaire imperialist infidel Oprah Winfrey, Allah be praised, and to take the reins of power myself as America's media darling."

Usama's Book Club, like Oprah'’s, will specialize in books "not usually sold as fiction,"” such as The Rogue State, and works by Richard Clarke, Michael Moore and Sen. Hillary Clinton. The club will also help al Qaeda strengthen its database of "friends who share our ideas on politics, theology, underground living and how to roast a cave rat in wild herbs until it tastes almost as good as a goat."

From another ScrappleFace piece:
Mr. Bin Laden, who insisted that the U.S.-led global war on terror has done nothing to hinder his "“21st-century jihad", said he prefers audiotape to video, not because he'’s "“cowering in caves, cut off from technology and frantically on the run 24/7, but rather so that the infidel can listen to my lectures in the car, at work or on the go."

Update: Bin Laden's message is said to reveal that his organization is in tatters.

Also, al Qaeda's #2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has joined Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in calling President Bush a "loser." More evidence of the compatibility of their respective ideologies?

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