Osama bin Laden’s taped message is the strangest evidence to emerge that the U.S. is winning the "information war" with al Qaeda and is new proof that al Qaeda’s famed media unit is in tatters, says Rich Miniter, author of Disinformation: 22 Media Myths That Undermine the War on Terror. (Click here to order from Amazon.)
It was not long ago that the propaganda arm of al Qaeda could easily get videotapes onto al Jazeera in hours. But the new tape played on al Jazeera took upwards of five weeks to move from bin Laden to al Jazeera.
Could al Qaeda’s network be fraying? One thing is for certain: Al Qaeda’s reliance on a network of human couriers to smuggle these tapes suggests fearfulness and potential apprehension.
Bin Laden’s offer of a "truce" to help rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan is actually an attempt to rebuild support among Muslim populations in those two countries, who have borne the brunt of terrorist attacks since 9/11. With Muslim opinion increasingly alienated away from bin Laden the truce and rebuilding effort is a last chance effort by bin Laden to win back the hearts and minds of his one-time Muslim supporters.
Bin Laden’s threat to strike inside the United States is not as frightening as it once was. More than 600 individuals linked to Islamic terrorism have been deported from the United States since September 2001. And al Qaeda cells from the Virginia suburbs to Bly, Ore., have been dismantled or disrupted. Since 9/11, the U.S. and its allies have killed or captured more than 5,000 al Qaeda operatives in 102 countries, and more than two thirds of its senior leadership has been killed or captured over the same period.
It was more than a year ago (Dec. 27, 2004) when the last authentic tape with bin Laden’s voice on it surfaced. In the 2004 tape, bin Laden praised Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda operations in Iraq. On today’s tape, bin Laden does not mention Zarqawi. And between 2004 and now, Zarqawi–the hero of Arab pop songs and soap opera references–has upstaged bin Laden. This new message bolsters support for the claim of some Arab intelligence officials that bin Laden is openly jealous of Zarqawi and is desperate to reassert himself and prove that he is still a player.
This tape explodes the myth that bin Laden died in the recent Pakistani earthquake.
This tape should caution analysts who repeatedly predict bin Laden’s demise, based solely on the fact that "we haven’t heard from him in a while."
More explosive information about the war on terror is revealed in Miniter’s new book, Disinformation. For a FREE sample chapter, simply provide your e-mail address.