Bin Laden Endorses al-Zarqawi on Tape
A speaker purported to be al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden endorsed the terror campaign of insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and urged Iraqis to boycott next month’s elections, in an audio tape broadcast Monday on the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera television network. When it broadcast the tape, Al-Jazeera said the voice was bin Laden’s. A CIA analysis finished Monday found that the tape appears to be authentic, a U.S. official told CNN. If the voice is bin Laden’s, the tape would mark the first time the al Qaeda leader has mentioned al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist whose group had been responsible for numerous car bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq.
Al-Zarqawi recently renamed his group from Unification and Jihad to al Qaeda in Iraq. The United States has placed a $25 million bounty on both bin Laden and al-Zarqawi. Terrorism experts have been waiting for a sign that bin Laden wants al-Zarqawi to act on his behalf. The tape, if real, is apparent proof the two are connected. “This confirms that Zarqawi and bin Laden have indeed been in touch with each other, that Zarqawi is now acting on behalf of bin Laden,” said al Qaeda expert and CNN consultant Paul Eedle. “It gives Zarqawi access to al Qaeda’s world-wide resources in terms of money and people. But on the ground in Iraq, it doesn’t change the reality immediately.”
The idea that the two weren’t connected has always been silly. From its inception, al Qaeda has been a loosely-structured umbrella organization for dozens of Islamist movements throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Groups within al Qaeda have often had disagreements. Bin Laden’s genius has been for getting them to cooperate for a common goal despite their different nationalist priorities.
Wired News has a CHRONOLOGY: Al Qaeda Messages Since Sept. 11, 2001:
Sept. 24 – Al Jazeera television quotes bin Laden statement urging Pakistanis to fight any assault on Afghanistan by “crusader Americans.”
Oct. 7 – Bin Laden taunts “infidel” Bush over Sept. 11 attacks; says in a videotape shown by Al Jazeera that United States will not live in peace until Palestinians can do the same.
Nov. 3 – Bin Laden video shown by Al Jazeera calls Muslims supporting Bush’s Afghanistan “crusade” apostates.
Dec. 13 – Bin Laden says was optimistic about Sept. 11 attacks but dared not hope they would bring down World Trade Center towers, according to video U.S. says confirms his guilt.
Dec. 26 – Bin Laden says in video on Al Jazeera that Sept. 11 attacks intended to stop U.S. support for Israel.
Jan. 31 – CNN airs Oct. 11 interview by Al Jazeera reporter in which bin Laden says “battle has moved inside the United States.”
May 19 – Bin Laden extols merits of martyrdom in video estimated to be two to four months old.
Sept. 10 – Al Jazeera runs audio tape it says is bin Laden praising Sept. 11 attackers as men who changed history.
Oct. 6 – Al Jazeera runs tape of bin Laden saying any U.S. attack on Muslim world would be repaid “two-fold.”
Oct. 14 – Bin Laden praises anti-Western attacks in Kuwait and Yemen; warns United States and Israel of more.
Nov. 12 – Al Jazeera airs apparent bin Laden tape warning U.S. allies against supporting “White House gang of butchers.”
Jan. 19 – London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reports bin Laden has issued a new statement urging Muslims to bury differences and unite to fight.
Feb. 11 – Taped message believed to be from bin Laden urges Muslims to fight United States and repel any war against Iraq; also lashes out at Iraqi leaders as “infidels.”
Sept. 10 – Al Jazeera airs video of bin Laden and Zawahri descending mountainside calling for jihad and praising the hijackers of Sept. 11 flights.
Oct. 18 – Al Jazeera plays two apparent bin Laden audio tapes vowing more attacks in and outside United States.
Dec. 20 – Audio tape purportedly from bin Laden is broadcast accusing Arab governments heeding U.S. calls for democracy of being “infidel” agents of United States.
Jan. 4 – Al Jazeera airs audio tape purported to be from bin Laden in which he mentions December’s arrest of Saddam Hussein by U.S. troops.
Feb. 24 – Al Jazeera airs purported audio tape by Zawahri warning Bush to prepare for more attacks on the United States.
March 25 – Al Jazeera broadcasts purported Zawahri tape calling for a coup in Pakistan.
April 15 – Arab TV airs audio tape purportedly by bin Laden offering truce to Europeans if they withdraw troops from Muslim nations.
May 6 – Islamist Web site posts recording purportedly from bin Laden calling for jihad, or holy war, against the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and anyone who cooperates with it.
June 12 – Al Arabiya broadcasts purported audio tape from Zawahri in which he criticizes a U.S. proposal for reform in the Middle East as a ploy and says change will only come through “resistance.”
Sept. 9 – Al Jazeera broadcasts video-taped message by Zawahri in which he ridicules U.S. forces which he said were “hiding in their trenches” in Afghanistan.
Oct. 30 – Days before the U.S. presidential election, bin Laden in a video broadcast on Al Jazeera television tells Americans Bush has deceived them and the United States could face more strikes like Sept. 11.
Nov 29 – Zawahri says in a videotape al Qaeda will continue to attack the United States until Washington changes its policies toward the Muslim world.
Dec 16 – An audio tape in which bin Laden blesses a group of Saudi militants who stormed the U.S. consulate in Jeddah on Dec. 6, is posted on the Internet.
Dec 27 – Al Jazeera airs a tape in which Bin Laden urges Iraqis to boycott January parliamentary polls and saying anyone who takes part would be an “infidel.” He also praises attacks in Iraq by al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.