The most recent audio message from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden raised another round of discussions about the situation in the world of terrorists. Some experts are sure that bin Laden is either seriously ill or dead. Such statements are triggered by the absence of bin Laden’s image in his messages.
The latest communique from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden surfaced June 30 on a jihadist Web site. On the audio, bin Laden lauds the recently killed leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and vows that the jihadist fight against the United States in Iraq will continue. Although this was the fourth statement released by bin Laden since the beginning of the year, he once again failed to make an appearance.
Instead, bin Laden delivers his 19-minute audio while the screen displays a split image of him and al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri. The bin Laden side is a still picture of him taken from an October 2004 video (the last time he appeared in one of his messages), while the al-Zarqawi side shows excerpts from his April 2005 video.
Nevertheless, for the reclusive al Qaeda leader, this new communique is equivalent to a media blitz. Before breaking a long silence in January, bin Laden had released no statement since December 2004.
Over the past year and a half, al-Zawahiri has released the majority of statements from the jihadist network's inner circle, many of them in the form of videos. This could be a result of al-Zawahiri's greater ability to move around. Bin Laden, by contrast, uses primarily audio statements, sometimes accompanied by old video or still pictures. This suggests either his physical appearance has deteriorated significantly since he was last seen, or concerns for his security require him to limit statements to the more easily produced and transmitted audio format to reduce the chances of Western intelligence tracking his location. If bin Laden's health has deteriorated to the point that his appearance would give the impression of weakness or impending death, showing a video could damage al Qaeda's public perception. For these reasons, bin Laden is unlikely to be seen on video unless he determines that it is absolutely essential to further his goals.
However, as technology advances in South Asia - where bin Laden is believed to be hiding - the methods used by the al Qaeda leadership to get audio and video statements to the outside world could be evolving. Once recorded, the tapes can be physically transported to a television station or other place of broadcast, or released over the Internet from an Internet café or from a private house with an Internet connection. The recent advent of more high-speed internet lines in Pakistan could facilitate uploading the statement directly to the Internet, though these facilities are limited to major cities, especially when it comes to residential or noncommercial connections. The image in this latest communique was fairly well produced, complete with subtitles and the logo of As-Sahab, al Qaeda's media department.
As-Sahab has struggled to keep its presence on the Internet and has had many Web sites shut down. To counter this, al Qaeda media operatives utilize several techniques for posting to the Internet. For example, they use third-party portals or online chat rooms and blogs to post videos, statements and other material. They can also hack into other Web sites and online forums. All of these techniques make it difficult for intelligence agencies to track the files' original upload sites.
In his statement, bin Laden praises al-Zarqawi more than he has anyone since the Sept. 11 hijackers. Bin Laden might have had differences with al-Zarqawi, but he also is aware of al-Zarqawi's notorious reputation in the West and has chosen to use it to further the al Qaeda cause - and perhaps gain new recruits, stratfor.org reports.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid had been told, presumably by US intelligence, that bin Laden"may have died in the earthquake that they had in Pakistan . " If Mr. Reid revealed this to the public, then he must have believed with great certainty.
In fact, many world leaders and their intelligence agencies believe that Osama bin Laden is dead, and has been for quite a while...long before the 2004, about.com says
Is bin Laden dead or alive? It is very difficult for those who don’t know it for sure to give an answer. There is one thing that is evident - the Bush Administration is dishonest, wholly untrustworthy and will stoop to unknown depths to achieve their goals and hold on to political power.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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