Wed 17 Sep, 2008 08:34 am
September 16, 2008
Bin Laden spoke
posted Warren Strobel
Wherever he is, be it a cave somewhere near the Afghan-Pakistan border, or hidden in a safe house in some teeming South Asian city, terrorist Osama bin Laden isn't heard from much anymore. By one count, he's made 25 video and audio statements since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks little more than seven years ago - less than four per year, on average.
But there was a time when bin Laden spoke, and wrote, a lot. In fact, he was often quite forthright about his plans, declaring jihad, or holy war, on the United States in 1996. Few in this country paid attention at the time.
Several interesting compilations of bin Laden's utterances, interviews and even poems have recently come to light.
Thanks to Secrecy News, a project of the Federation of American Scientists and one of our favorite sources here at N&S, we have a US government compliation of bin Laden's public statements between 1994 and early 2004. The compilation was done by the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, which has since morphed into the agency's Open Source Center. You can check out the lengthy PDF file here. Secrecy News said it obtained a copy of the document, which has not been approved for public release. (One has to ask why not, since it is basically a compilation of unclassified, open source material).
The compilation includes bin Laden's 1996 declaration of jihad against the Americans; his 1998 "fatwa" urging jihad against "the Jews and Crusaders," and much else, including many of the al Qaida leader's post-9/11 remarks.
Even more intriguing is an on-going study by Flagg Miller, a professor of religious studies at the University of California-Davis of 1,200 audiocassettes recovered in late 2001 from bin Laden's compound in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The tapes, 20 of which contain recordings of bin Laden himself, help trace his evolution from Saudi dissident to terrorist mastermind and symbolic leader of jihad worldwide.
It's more than a little eerie to listen to bin Laden declare the establishment of a "safe base" in the Hindu Kush mountains in 1996, long before most Americans had heard his name.
I saw this headline and thought maybe he was releasing books on tape or something to raise money...you know"Usama Bin Laden reads the works of JR Tolkien" or something.