Osama Bin Laden As Defense Attorney


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According to several news organizations Osama bin Laden has released an audiotape on a website claiming that Zacarias Moussaoui was not part of the 9/11 plot. According to a transcript of the tape Osama bin Laden also for the first time takes direct responsibility for the September 11 terrorist attacks. I am no bin Laden analyst and I do not play one on TV but I will go out on a limb here and postulate that the alleged bin Laden tape is not authentic. Much like the alleged Zawahiri letter to Zarqawi it draws too convenient a line between characters in this terror drama that do not necessarily play in the same sandbox.

The tape begins by playing defense lawyer to Moussaoui:

I begin by talking about the honorable brother Zacarias Moussaoui. The truth is that he has no connection whatsoever with the events of September 11th, and I am certain of what I say, because I was responsible for entrusting the 19 brothers – Allah have mercy upon them – with those raids, and I did not assign brother Zacarias to be with them on that mission. [Emphasis added by me.]

This is a stunning admission by bin Laden if the tape is authentic. Not only is bin Laden claiming to have ordered the attacks, he is also claiming that he had direct operational control of the attacks in assigning who would carry out the mission.

Bin Laden the defense lawyer then wades into the weeds:

And among the things that confirm this fact is that the participants in September 11th were two groups: pilots and support teams for each pilot in order to control the aircraft. And since Zacarias Moussaoui was learning how to fly, it follows that he wasn’t component #20 from the teams which helped to control the airplanes, as your government previously claimed, and your government knows this fact with certainty. And if Moussaoui was studying aviation to become a pilot of one of the planes, then let him tell us the names of those assigned to help him control the plane. But he won’t be able to tell us their names, for a simple reason: that in fact they don’t exist. This is from one perspective, and from another perspective, the brother Moussaoui was arrested two weeks before the events, and had he known anything – however little – about the September 11th group, we would have told the brother Commander Mohamed Atta and his brothers – Allah have mercy upon them – to leave America immediately before their affair was exposed. And with this it becomes clear to even the novice investigator – not to mention the seasoned one – that there is no connection between him and the events of September 11th. [Emphasis added by me.]

Bin Laden, uncharacteristically, is making a plea for Moussaoui by trying to claim Moussaoui was ignorant. Here bin Laden makes an utterly illogical statement that after Moussaoui was arrested that he could have informed Atta. That simply makes no sense and the one making the argument appears to be quite unsophisticated.

Bin Laden then raises the other hot topic of the day, Guantanamo Bay:

And then I call to memory my brothers the prisoners in Guantanamo – may Allah free them all – and I state the fact, about which I also am certain, that all the prisoners of Guantanamo, who were captured in 2001 and the first half of 2002 and who number in the hundreds, have no connection whatsoever to the events of September 11th, and even stranger is that many of them have no connection with al-Qaida in the first place, and even more amazing is that some of them oppose al-Qaida’s methodology of calling for war with America. [Emphasis added by me.]

Up to this point al Qaeda has famously claimed responsibility for seemingly disconnected acts of terrorism. Here, by contrast, bin Laden is claiming that the Guantanamo prisoners oppose al Qaeda.

Then comes this remarkable passage:

Bush and his administration are aware of this fact, but they avoid mentioning it, for reasons not hidden to the discerning. Among these reasons is that it is necessary to create justifications for the massive spending of hundreds of billions on the Defense Department and other agencies in their war against the Mujahideen. My mentioning of these facts isn’t out of hope that Bush and his party will treat our brothers fairly in their cases, because that is something no rational person expects, but rather it is meant to expose the oppression, injustice and arbitrariness of your administration in using force and the reactions that result from that. This is from one perspective, and from another perspective, perhaps there will one day come from the Americans someone who desires justice and fairness, and that is the path to security and safety, if you are interested in it. [Emphasis added by me.]

Here bin Laden is complaining, of all things, about the American Defense budget. He then makes a plea for American’s to choose a different kind of leader.

Either bin Laden has thrown up the white flag of surrender here or this tape smells very much like the disputed Zawahiri letter to Zarqawi. If this is in fact bin Laden, it is quite clear from the tone and substance of the tape that bin Laden has lost control of al Qaeda and has been relegated to making pleas on behalf of third-rate al Qaeda wannabes. If this tape is authentic, then we have likely crippled bin Laden’s operation.

However, given the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the American difficulties in Iraq, the tone of this message seems hopelessly out of place. Why would bin Laden remove the ambiguity of his role in 9/11 just to defend Moussaoui? The payoff for him is not worth the loss of mystique. Most Americans have already concluded that Moussaoui is a crackpot who was a terrorist wannabe. There was no need for bin Laden to reiterate that point – doing so makes him look naive and desperate. Perhaps he is desperate, and if so, that is a good thing that all civilized people should take some satisfaction in knowing. But, more likely, this tape is a fabrication judging by its tone and its content. Our intelligence agencies have not yet confirmed its authenticity. I look forward to hearing the judgment of our intelligence analysts and I look forward to being wrong on this one.

This entry was posted in Foreign Policy, Media, Politics, Terrorism. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Osama Bin Laden As Defense Attorney

  1. joetwat says:

    Good gracious! And just a day after that zogby poll revealed that half of americans believe that there was a 9/11 cover up


    Wow, thats like, so coincidental!

  2. Kel says:

    I am in total agreement with you on this one.

    Bin Laden has never admitted responsibility and wouldn’t come out simply to defend someone that he has no knowledge of.

    Well argued article – but tell me – where did you find that fucking brilliant cartoon?

  3. Mash says:

    Kel, I was looking for a cartoon that would get the point across and came across this on a Yahoo! image search \:d/

    It definitely gets the point across :o)

    joetwat, the coincidence is duly noted :-b

  4. Kel says:

    Oh, it got the point across, it was fabulous!

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