So, how to parse this statement, allegedly from Osama Bin Laden? On the one hand, it says “All those who co-operate with the Americans against Iraq are hostile to Islam” and that “The United States is seeking, by occupying Iraw, to achieve the Zionist dream of establishing a Greater Israel.” On the other hand, it dismisses “the ignorant governments that rule all Arab states, including Iraq” because they do not fight “in the name of God.” (CNN is also translating this as “We need your intention to be to fight for the sake of God, not for nationalism or any infidel regime, including Iraq.”)
The voice on the tape claims “We stress the importance of martyrdom operations against the enemy, these attacks that have spited Americans and Israelis like never before.” But it dimisses regimes like Saddam’s as “infidels… For the socialists and the rulers have lost their legitimacy a long time ago, and the socialists are infidels regardless of where they are, whether in Baghdad or in Aden.”
Reactions have ranged from the skeptical to the impenetrable. A “senior Bush administration official” said that “At best it is a terrorist making common cause with a brutal dictator and at worst it demonstrates a burgeoning alliance of terror.” Calling someone an apostate and an infidel doesn’t seem like a way of cosying up, but what do I know? Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds comments:
But now that he’s admitting a “partnership” with Iraq, it’s going to be tough for people who’ve been saying “you can’t even catch Osama” to deny this evidence. Heh.
As far as I can tell, this means that the CIA have probably fabricated the tape to generate support for the war, but that’s OK because the fake evidence conclusively proves the link between Al-Qaeda and Iraq, which will really cause problems for the anti-war crowd.
In a sense, however, the authenticity of the tape doesn’t really matter. Whoever made this tape wants a war in Iraq. Maybe Al-Qaeda made it, maybe the Bush Administration did. (In the words of Teresa Nielsen Hayden, “I deeply resent the way this administration makes me feel like a nutbar conspiracy theorist.”) Of course, their ultimate goals differ. Al Qaeda would like as prolonged and bloody a war as possible to eliminate Saddam, and then a fundamentalist uprising to replace him with a theocratic caliph. The Bush Administration would like as quick and easy a war as possible to eliminate Saddam, and then a Jeffersonian uprising to replace him with a friendly puppet. Either way, it’s not looking too good for Saddam. But it’s looking very good indeed for the major news networks.
Update: Mark Kleiman is also confused but heroically rescues an explanation. It involves hypnotism and the Iraqi sleeper-cell in Knoxville.