New Osama Video Contains Old Tape

A previously unseen video featuring Osama bin Laden has renewed speculation as to whether the al Qaeda leader is still alive and running the show. CNN:

New Osama VideoOsama bin Laden stresses the importance of martyrdom for Muslim causes in a videotape that purportedly contains a 50-second message from the al Qaeda leader. The 40-minute videotape, whose audio was being translated from Arabic by CNN, was intercepted before it was to appear on several Islamist Web sites known for carrying statements from al Qaeda and other radical groups.

The videotape, titled “A Special Surprise from As-Sahab. Heaven’s Breeze Part I,” was made in the last four weeks, but the clips appear to be old, said Octavia Nasr, CNN’s senior editor for Arab affairs. There is no indication of where it was shot, and CNN cannot verify its authenticity.

“We’re aware of the tape,” a government official, who didn’t want to be identified, told CNN. The official agreed that the tape’s content is not necessarily new. “There has not been, over time, a one-to-one correlation between release of a tape and any significant operation or attack afterward,” the official added.

Bin Laden, with a bodyguard standing directly behind him, is looking down slightly in the video, appearing to address an audience below, which is unseen. He says that the Prophet Mohammed wanted to be a martyr, and that is a worthy goal for every Muslim. “So be alert, be wise and think. What is this status that the best of mankind wished for himself? He wished to be a martyr. He himself said, ‘By him in whose hands my life is! I would love to attack and be martyred, then attack again and be martyred, then attack again and be martyred.’ “So this whole broad life is summarized by him who was inspired by God, the Lord of the heavens and earth, praised and exalted is he. This glorious prophet who was inspired by God summarized this entire life by these words. He wished upon himself this status. Happy is the one who was chosen by God as a martyr.”

Rhonda Schwartz and Hoda Osman report, “Experts who study al Qaeda videos told ABC News they had not previously seen the clip of bin Laden, which was released with little fanfare and contains no date references, but say it is most likely an unreleased portion of an earlier message.”

If this is indeed old footage, it will be cited as evidence that he’s out of the picture. Ultimately, aside from ending the “Bush has let Osama bin Laden remain free” meme, I’m not sure it would have any practical effect. Al Qaeda needed him to form but it has plenty of momentum and trained leaders at this point.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Billy says:

    Ultimately, aside from ending the “Bush has let Osama bin Laden remain free” meme, I’m not sure it would have any practical effect.

    How would it do that? Even proof of bin Laden’s natural death in the Pakistani mountains wouldn’t rebut that claim.

  2. DC Loser says:

    This use of old OBL videos coupled with the fact that Al Zawahiri has been the public face of AQ leadership in the past few years to me would be a strong indication of OBL’s death. But you’re correct in that it doesn’t really make a difference anymore. OBL did what he set out to do and his heirs have been in control for quite awhile already.

  3. The Dude Is Dead…

    digg_url = ‘http://www.floppingaces.net/2007/07/15/the-dude-is-dead/’; digg_title = ‘The Dude Is Dead’; digg_bodytext = ‘They figured posting this video as something new would give their fighters some conviction to carry on the fight since they a…

  4. Anjin-San says:

    Ultimately, aside from ending the “Bush has let Osama bin Laden remain free” meme

    I am still amazed by the apparent lack of interest on the right in obtaining justice for the thousands of Americans murdered on 9/11.

    Al Qaeda needed him to form but it has plenty of momentum and trained leaders at this point.

    Quite true. And where is the outrage on the right that Bush has allowed Al Queda to rebuild while he is doing whatever the hell it is he is doing in Iraq?

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