Osama speaks before Obama does


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Apr 5, 2009
Osama speaks before Obama does

The New York Times Posted online: Thursday , Jun 04, 2009 at 0127 hrs

Cairo : Just as US President Barack Obama arrived in West Asia, the Al Jazeera television news broadcast an audiotape on Wednesday that it said was Osama bin Laden condemning Obama for planting new seeds of “hatred and vengeance toward Americans”.
The message focused on Obama’s decision to step up pressure on extremists in Pakistan. The speaker specifically blamed the President for the Pakistani military’s drive to retake an area in Swat that had recently come under the control of Taliban. He blamed Obama for the “one million Muslims” who have had to flee their homes because of the fighting.

“Obama has followed the footsteps of his predecessor in increasing animosity towards Muslims and increasing enemy fighters and establishing long-term wars,” the recording said. “So the American people should get ready to reap the fruits of what the leaders of the White House have planted throughout the coming years and decades.”

The recording, if verified, is a signal that Osama is alive and in touch with current events, and that he retains effective channels of communication with the outside world. The message was released one day after al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri issued his own audiotape condemning the President.

Zawahiri, in an audiotape posted on an Islamist website, said that Muslims had already received Obama’s bloody messages. “They (Obama’s messages) will not be concealed by public relations campaigns or theatrical visits or polished words,” Zawahiri had said.

Wednesday’s recording said that the Pakistani authorities were doing Washington’s bidding when they prevented “implementing Sharia law by fighting and killing and through bombings and destruction”.

The recording continued: “Obama and his administration have planted new seeds to increase hatred and revenge from America. The number of those seeds is the same as the number of those harmed and displaced from Swat Valley and the tribal regions in North and South Waziristan and the number of their sympathizers.”

This is not the first time al-Qaeda has attacked Obama. In a blunt personal attack on the incoming President in November, Zawahiri painted Obama as a hypocrite and a traitor to his race, comparing him unfavorably with “honourable Black Americans” like Malcolm X, the 1960s black Muslim leader, and referring to him as a “house Negro”, using a direct translation of a term Malcolm X himself used.

The latest recording and the attention it provoked served as a reminder of what is at stake as the President tries to recalibrate America’s image throughout the Muslim world. This trip, and the speech he is scheduled to give in Cairo on Thursday, are part of a broad diplomatic push that has included a speech in Turkey, an appearance on an Arabic language satellite news channel and a video message sent to Iran during Persian New Year celebrations.


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