Thursday, January 19, 2006

Bin Laden Reclaims Top Billing


Osama bin Laden's latest message is most notable for the long silence that preceded it — the audiotape broadcast Thursday on al-Jazeera is the Qaeda leader's first direct communication with his public in a little over a year.
Despite directly addressing Americans, its primary purpose may nonetheless be to remind Arab and Muslim audiences of his existence, and to reiterate his claim to primacy among the Jihadists. Bin Laden last message was released in December 2004, although the movement's Number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has continued to release occasional videotaped missives from his hideout in the wilds of western Pakistan.
But in the year of Bin Laden's silence, he has begun to be supplanted as the media face of global jihad by Musab al-Zarqawi, whose grisly exploits in Iraq grab headlines week after week.
The other radical Islamist competitor for the mantle of U.S. Public Enemy Number 1 has lately been Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who has garnered attention for his bristling hostility to the U.S. and his threat to wipe out Israel, all in the context of his defiance of the West over Iran's nuclear program. The attention paid to Zarqawi and Ahmedinejad has moved Bin Laden to the margins of Western news coverage, but his strategy for building al-Qaeda, as the single umbrella organization of global jihad, with himself as its "Sheikh," has been premised on his being recognized among the radically-inclined Muslim youth as America's most feared enemy. So, whether or not it is followed up by any of the actions it threatens, Thursday's taped message has at least succeeded in, however briefly, restoring Bin Laden to what he imagines is his rightful place in the headlines.
Bin Laden's ego and the infighting among the various radical groups and personalities is well documented, but I thought this was a little weird; it strikes me as pretty unlikely that OBL is going to put something like this out just because he's worried about losing Simon's and Paula's votes on Jihadist Idol. Leave it to the Em Ess Em to reduce the interrelationships among jihadists to a horse race.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

laden who !

12:56 PM  

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