Osama bin Laden audio: “is it live or Memorex?”

By Douglas J. Hagmann, Director

25 January 2010: The release of a one-minute audio message reportedly from Osama bin Laden obtained and aired on Al-Jazeera TV yesterday has many veteran intelligence insiders both concerned and somewhat at odds with each other about the authenticity and intent of the message.  The message bearing the title “From Osama to Obama” consisted of a voice purporting to be that of bin Laden accompanied by an older image of the top al Qaeda terrorist.  Osama bin Laden addresses US President Obama personally, taking credit for the Christmas day airline bombing attempt by Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab and warning of continued attacks as long as the U.S. continues to support Israel.

While at least one private intelligence agency believes the wording contained in the statement is possibly indicative of an impending attack by al Qaeda, others, including veteran U.S. intelligence contacts closely held by the Northeast Intelligence Network, express doubts that the message is any type of instructional command.

“The message was indeed out of the norm in content and length, and the timing is certainly a concern as is the reference to the Christmas Day bombing attempt,” stated one intelligence source in a telephone interview with this investigator Sunday evening. “We have no doubts whatsoever that Islamic terrorists are engaged in planning attacks against the U.S. domestically and abroad, and that includes continued attempts against U.S. flagged airplanes. But it certainly does not limit attempts against our commercial aircraft, and I would caution everyone to be vigilant not only while flying, but everywhere,” added this source. “We must be careful of tunnel vision, and not become too focused on any single target opportunity.”

When asked if the voice of bin Laden had been authenticated, this source stated that there is disagreement among analysts about the voice being that of bin Laden. “Certainly, it’s possible, but just because it’s possible, that doesn’t make it so.”

Investigators and researchers at the Northeast Intelligence Network are continuing their analysis, while communicating with sources inside the intelligence community. There is a level of distrust with regard to the authenticity of this and previous messages purportedly from bin Laden, especially when the best proof of life (of Osama bin Laden) is in a form that can be easily manipulated. We are not as easily convinced or prepared to state, as other agencies have already stated, that the audio statement “appears to be exactly what it purports to be, an audio message from bin Laden.”

Additional details will be forthcoming.

Text of Osama bin Laden’s statement:

In the name of God the most passionate the most merciful, from Osama to Obama.

“May peace be on those who follow the light of guidance. If our messages to you could be carried by words we wouldn’t have done that by planes. The message I want to convey to you through the plane of the hero, Mujahid Umar al Farouk [referencing Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab] reaffirms a previous message that the heroes of 9/11 conveyed to you and was repeated frequently.

The message is that America will never dream of peace unless we live it in Palestine. It is unfair that you should a safe life while our brothers in Gaza are suffer greatly therefore with God’s will our attacks on you will continue to (as long as you support) Israel. Peace be on those who follow the light of guidance.”

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