Osama bin Laden: Still devious and contradictory

Well there you have it. Once and for all Osama bin Laden acknowledged in the newly released video on Al-Jazeera responsibility for carrying out the barbaric, cold and calculated attacks of Sept. 11.

Bin Laden provides irrefutable insight to his involvement and planning of the Sept. 11 attacks, referring to instructing Mohammed Atta - the leader of the 19 hijackers - to carry out the attacks within the time span of twenty minutes.

He then mocks President George Bush. "It never occurred to us that the commander-in-chief of the American armed forces would leave 50,000 of his citizens in the two towers to face these horrors alone," bin Laden said, in reference to the number of people working at the World Trade Center towers.

Such a revelation will surely leave conspiracy advocates in the Middle East and around the world gasping as they try to come to grips with facts they have long found difficulty believing. But it is also designed to implicate Bush as having allowed more people to perish as a result of poor leadership and negligence - at least this is what bin Laden is saying. And there is some insight that bin Laden has either watched or read about Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," given his reference to Bush talking to a young girl in the classroom whilst the attacks were underway.

Comfortable and collected, speaking with an ironically soothing voice, bin Laden abandoned his polemic calls for jihad - his urging of Muslims to kill Americans and their supporters. He instead tried, at least in his schizophrenic and twisted form of logic - if that is what one can call it - to reach out to the American people, rationalizing his hideous attack on the United States three years ago.

"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry, Bush or Al-Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands," bin Laden said addressing the American people.

"Any state that does not mess with our security has naturally guaranteed its own security."

There is obviously no possible, rational or logical way to rationalize the slaughtering of thousands of innocent lives. But clearly this is an attempt by bin Laden to try to sway American foreign policy as much as it is an attempt to influence the U.S. elections. More importantly, it also conveys the contradictory and devious nature of bin Laden. If the message here is that American people should feel at ease and are not at fault, then why did bin Laden make his threat in the aftermath of Sept. 11, in which he said America will never be safe and those living in it would never know security?

It seems also that the "sheikh," as he is called by some of his admirers, has been going through a period of introspection. The Israeli invasion of Beirut in 1982 appears to have played a formidable role in spewing the venom over the years in the psyche of bin Laden.

"While I was looking at these destroyed towers in Lebanon, it sparked in my mind that the tyrant should be punished with the same and that we should destroy towers in America, so that it tastes what we taste and would be deterred from killing our children and women," he said.

"God knows that it had not occurred to our mind to attack the towers, but after our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon, this came to my mind," he added.

Notice here, a clear shift in strategy. Bin Laden is no longer talking about ejecting the "infidels" from the Arabian peninsula. He isn't attacking any particular Arab leader. If Lebanon had such a profound impact, if it had played such a salient role in shaping his views and his hatred of America, why then did he wait from 1982 until 2001 to launch a large-scale attack on the United States?

After all, he would have had more support waging an all-out guerrilla war in Lebanon against Israel's invading army. Bin Laden is no Che Guevara. He is not Yasser Arafat, nor Gamal Abdel Nasser.

What you have here is what people in the intelligence community call a rogue agent - except this one is a multidimensional psychopath with a self-prophesied ideology to instill fear, terror and hatred in the hearts of human beings.

How can an individual, who for years was on the take from the CIA and other intelligence agencies, proclaim that the killing and maiming of innocent Palestinians, Arabs or other Muslims around the world be wrong and then hideously murder - under the guise of religion - innocents in Africa, Saudi Arabia, and the US? Bin Laden is an individual defunct of a moral compass, and a fatwa (edict) branding him a bigot and a heretic by Muslim clerics the world over is long overdue.

It's not enough to express sorrow every time a child dies or when hostages have their heads cut off, or when a non-Muslim has their throat cut. Are we butchers? Are we barbarians?

Massoud A. Derhally is a Amman-based freelance journalist and former correspondent of Agence France Presse. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR, and welcomes correspondence on





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