I've been reading the transcript of Osama bin Laden's latest speech addressed to us here in the United States of America.
My guess is that like most politicians and public figures, Osama bin Laden did not write the speech himself but instead had it written for him while he set the tone and direction. For instance, bin Laden's speech refers to Noam Chomsky and former CIA agent Michael Scheuer, who wrote a book critical of the Bush Administration's handling of the War on Terror called "Imperial Hubris". There is also a reference to the "eloquent message of Joshua", apparently someone who served with the American military in Iraq. Without the benefit of having read anyone else's explanation of who this Joshua might be, I strongly suspect that he is in fact Josh Rushing, who served as a press officer with CENTCOM during the early months of the Iraq War in 2003. Rushing became somewhat famous after he was featured in the documentary film "Control Room", which was about the Arab news network Al-Jazeera and its coverage of the war in Iraq. Rushing has since left the Marines and now works for Al-Jazeera, as well as having his own web site.
So who do I think wrote the speech, or at least contributed a good deal of it? I think this guy would fit the bill nicely. Adam Gadahn, also known as Azzam the American, would be an ideal candidate for writing or at least heavily contributing to a speech that appears to be an appeal to American public opinion. Portions of the speech suggest someone who is knowledgeable about our domestic politics, and bin Laden's railings against American capitalism and the influence of big corporations sounds like a pitch tailored towards an American Left that is antiwar and anti big business.
In the speech, bin Laden segues at one point into a diatribe against the West for the Holocaust against the Jews of Europe. And here bin Laden utters a tremendous falsehood. He states that "the holocaust of the Jews was carried out by your brethren in the middle of Europe, but had it been closer to our countries, most of the Jews would have been saved by taking refuge with us." (Italics mine) This is bullshit and bin Laden knows it. One need only look at the activities of Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, whose incitements of Arab rebellion against the British in the 1930's caused the British to restrict Jewish immigration to Palestine. The Mufti explicitly allied himself to the Nazis during World War Two and recruited Bosnian Muslims to fight for Hitler.
Bin Laden concludes the speech by calling on the people of America to "embrace Islam" (see my post below), which he claims "puts peoples' lives in order with its laws; protects their needs and interests; refines their morals; protects them from evils; and guarantees for them entrance into Paradise in the hereafter through their obedience to Allah and sincere worship of Him Alone."
Islam, argues bin Laden, "will deprive [the corporations] of the opportunity to defraud the peoples and take their money under numberous (sic) pretexts, like arms deals and so on." But it gets even better. For those of us Americans who hate paying taxes (which is about 95% of us), "there are no taxes in Islam"! And for American Christians, bin Laden reminds them that "the name of the Prophet of Allah Jesus and his mother (peace and blessings of Allah be on them both) are mentioned in the Noble Quran dozens of times". In other words, bin Laden is telling American Christians, "Hey, becoming a Muslim is no big deal, we honor Jesus too!"
This latest speech by bin Laden is more conciliatory in nature than many of his past pronouncements. For a taste of bin Laden in vintage jihadi mode, here is his 1996 fatwa against America for your reference. Is Osama bin Laden getting mellow with age? Or is it more likely that rather than speaking to Americans, bin Laden's speech is really propaganda aimed at the Muslim world, telling them in effect "I offered the Americans a chance to embrace Islam and achieve true peace, but they didn't want to listen, so they deserve whatever happens to them"?
Given the infrequency of bin Laden's video appearances, this latest being his first in about three years, it inevitably raises questions about his health. I have to admit that until his 2004 video came out, I believed that he was in fact dead. But while he clearly is not dead, his dyed beard and evident fatigue in the new video suggest that something is wrong with him. So, as upset as I am that he has not yet been brought to justice, I can take some consolation in knowing that his is not a life of comfort and ease. One day he will be dead, either from violence or illness, and the terrorist organization he created will fade away.