January 25, 2010

OSAMA BIN LADEN: AN INTRIGUING MESSAGE

B.RAMAN

Osama bin Laden's unusually brief message of January 24,2010, titled "Osama to Obama", which was broadcast by Al Jazeera, carries three significant points.

2. Firstly, it seeks to convey the impression to his followers in the Muslim world that he continues to be in charge of Al Qaeda despite the recent high profile rise of Al Qaeda groups in Yemen and Somalia.

3.Secondly, it tries to project that it was he who had inspired the Nigerian student who unsuccessfully attempted to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day. He does not use a collective noun. He says: "The message I want to convey to you through the plane of the hero, mujahid Umar al Farouk [Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab] reaffirms a previous message that the heroes of 9/11 conveyed to you and was repeated frequently. "

4.Thirdly, he attributes the Detroit attempt to the sufferings of the Palestinians in Gaza and warns that the US will continue to be targeted so long as it supports Israel.

5. He does not attribute the Detroit attempt to larger causes such as Iraq or Afghanistan or the US Drone strikes in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Since the message was disseminated just days before the January 28 Afghanistan conference in London, one would have expected a reference at least to Afghanistan, but he is silent.

6. My interpretation is that the message has the limited purpose of underlining that he continues to be in total charge of Al Qaeda and nothing more. ( 25-1-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Stuudies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

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