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The Latest from al Qaeda

The $64,000 Question might have a 74 Minute Answer!

16 December 2004: If she was appearing on that infamous game show and the question involved the relatively consistent length of the bin Laden audio messages, analyst and associate director Laura Mansfield might well be taking home the loot. As analysts, we are involved in a process of pattern recognition, and as investigators, we are involved in asking questions. That is why the question of audio length arose with the earlier release of today's message from top al Qaeda thug Osama bin Laden. Visitors to this site and subscribers to our newsletter will recall that aside from foreboding a significant attack "somewhere," the most recent audio releases have been hovering about 74 minutes in length. We were all asking why when Ms. Mansfield answered with something we had not previously considered - the method of dissemination of bin Laden's latest audio messages is by CD.

To keep it simple, it could be stipulated that the largest amount of broadcast quality audio storable on a regular CD is 74 minutes. As in all of bin Laden's messages, the addage that "the devil is in the details" (as well as behind the microphone) should apply when conducting an analysis. The method of dissemination is extremely important in this and all cases of audio messages from al Qaeda miscreants and must be taken into consideration when investigating the message and the messenger.

Douglas J. Hagmann


New Audiotape from Osama Bin Laden

by Laura Mansfield

16 December 2004: An audiotape was released this morning on several Arabic language message boards used by known Al Qaeda members and sympathizers. The tape, which they claim contains a message from Osama Bin Laden, makes specific reference to events in Saudi Arabia.

The tape, approximately 70 minutes in length, contains considerably more Qu'ranic references that his other recent shorter tapes. It must be considered that the shorter tapes may have had the Qu'ranic references edited out before the tapes were released.

The tape is current - it appears to have been made in the past week, since it contains specific references to the December 6 attack on the US Consulate in Jeddah by Al Qaeda's Saudi Arabian affiliates.

Protests and demonstrations in the streets of Saudi cities had been called for today by MIRA (Movement for Islamic Reform). The group had been planning the protests for several weeks.

Despite all of the rhetoric on the jihadi boards, it appears that the protests did not materialize on the scale that MIRA had projected. Although there were small demonstrations, and numerous arrests by Saudi security forces, the situation in Saudi Arabia remained relatively calm, although a bit tense.

A full translation and analysis is underway now.


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