Bin Laden’s last tape


On 19 January 2006, al-Jezeera broadcast yet another audio tape by Osama bin Laden (see Associated Press translation here [1]).  This one is addressed to the American people and repeats the message that the US will be left alone if it leaves the Muslim world alone.


As he said in his message to the Amercian people broadcast on al-Jezeera on 30 October 2004, just before the US presidential election [2]:


“We want to restore freedom to our nation; just as you lay waste to our nation, so shall we lay waste to yours. No one except a dumb thief plays with the security of others and then makes himself believe he will be secure. … And every state that doesn't play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security.”


The new message notes the increasing support amongst the American people for US withdrawal from Iraq and refutes Bush’s response that US troops have to stay in Iraq in order to deal with terrorists, who would otherwise attack Americans in their homeland.  As Bush said in his “victory” speech on 30 November 2005 [3]:


“If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders. By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people.”


Bin Laden’s message is, once again, that the converse is true – that if the US leaves Muslim lands, the US will be free from attack.  His message begins as follows (in the Associated Press translation):


“My message to you is about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and how to end them. I did not intend to speak to you about this because this issue has already been decided. Only metal breaks metal, and our situation, thank God, is only getting better and better, while your situation is the opposite of that.


“But I plan to speak about the repeated errors your President Bush has committed in comments on the results of your polls that show an overwhelming majority of you want the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. But he (Bush) has opposed this wish and said that withdrawing troops sends the wrong message to opponents, that it is better to fight them (bin Laden's followers) on their land than their fighting us (Americans) on our land.


“I can reply to these errors by saying that war in Iraq is raging with no let-up, and operations in Afghanistan are escalating in our favor, thank God, and Pentagon figures show the number of your dead and wounded is increasing not to mention the massive material losses, the destruction of the soldiers’ morale there and the rise in cases of suicide among them. …”


He went on:


“And so to return to the issue, I say that results of polls please those who are sensible, and Bush's opposition to them is a mistake. The reality shows that the war against America and its allies has not been limited to Iraq as he (Bush) claims. Iraq has become a point of attraction and restorer of (our) energies.”


He interprets the polls results favouring withdrawal as the American people saying that “it is better that we don't fight Muslims on their lands and that they don't fight us on ours” and offered a truce on this basis:


“We don't mind offering you a long-term truce on fair conditions that we adhere to. … So both sides can enjoy security and stability under this truce so we can build Iraq and Afghanistan, which have been destroyed in this war. There is no shame in this solution, which prevents the wasting of billions of dollars that have gone to those with influence and merchants of war in America who have supported Bush's election campaign with billions of dollars -- which lets us understand the insistence by Bush and his gang to carry on with war.”


He then advised Americans to read a book called Rogue State, which (he claimed) provides in its introduction a formula for stopping attacks on the US:


“If I were president, I would stop the attacks on the United States: First I would give an apology to all the widows and orphans and those who were tortured. Then I would announce that American interference in the nations of the world has ended once and for all.”


To a degree, Americans have taken bin Laden’s advice and Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower (it’s full title) has jumped from nowhere to 26 on the Amazon bestseller list at the time of writing.  However, the quote isn’t from Rogue State at all, but from another book Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire by the same author.  According to a Washington Post article on 21 January 2006 [4], this book is still languishing on Amazon, while two other books entitled Rogue State have enjoyed a surge in sales on Amazon.


The quote in its original English is:


“If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize to all the widows and orphans, the tortured and impoverished, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism.  Then I would announce, in all sincerity, to every corner of the world, that America's global interventions have come to an end, and inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the USA but now - oddly enough - a foreign country.


“I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims. There would be more than enough money. One year’s military budget of 330 billion dollars is equal to more than $18,000 an hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born.


“That’s what I'd do on my first three days in the White House.


“On the fourth day, I'd be assassinated.”


The author is Bill Blum who has written several books carefully documenting American foreign interventions post World War II (see his website here [5]).  He also produces a monthly Anti-Empire report available free by e-mail.  I recommend it.


David Morrison

30 January 2006

Labour & Trade Union Review