Tag Archives: tape

What Is Osama´s Last Tape About?

by Florian Flade

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They are the first glimpse at what US intelligence officials describe as a “treasure trove”, the largest amount of documents, video and picture material found in a single counter-terrorism raid in years – 2.7 terrabytes of data found inside Osama Bin Laden´s hideout in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad, giving a rare insight look into Al-Qaida´s leadership.

Last week, the Pentagon released five videos which were among those found inside the Bin Laden compound, all showing the late Al-Qaida leader prior to  his death, watching TV or preparing for the recording of a video message. All audio data of the videos was erased by the US authorities, so none of the videos given to the media actually has any sound.

While the media focussed primarly on one video – the unusual footage of the elderly, grey-bearded terrorist leader sitting on the ground, a blanket wrapped around his shoulders, surfing through Arabic TV channels, obviously watching news about himself and his terrorist network – the most interesting of the newly released “Bin Laden Home-Videos” is not the raw footage but the apparently ready-for-release video speech by the Al-Qaida founder.

It appears to be a message by Bin Laden that has already underwent the final editing process of As-Sahab Media, Al-Qaida´s propaganda wing, bearing the usual intro and the As-Sahab logo in the lower right corner of the screen. Osama Bin Laden is seen sitting on a table, wearing a golden robe and a white turban. His beard was obviously dyed in a darker color. The whole scene is very similar to the last two officially released Bin Laden tapes in 2004 and 2007.

The 2007 video message titled “The Solution”, was released by Al-Qaida´s As-Sahab Media on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks and featured Bin Laden also with a dark-colored beard, sitting at a table with a golden-lavish robe.


In 2004, only a few days prior the US Presidential Elections, Al-Jazeera aired a blurry Bin Laden video message in which the Al-Qaida leader also wore the same robe and a white turban. Back then, his beard was not dyed but greyish, making Bin Laden look quiet older compared to the following and since then only other video message in 2007.

Question is: What do we know about what appears to be the last recorded video message of the most-wanted man alive? The intro of the now Pentagon-owned tape simply reads “From Osama Bin Laden to the American People” – a title used in earlier messages. Apart from Bin Laden himself talking no other images are seen. In the As-Sahab “closing” of the tape, a date and a statement is given, saying the tape was made in 1431 a.H. – meaning probably in 2010 according to the Gregorian calender. The Arabic closing statement of the 6 minutes and 40 seconds tape reads: “Either we live under Islam or we die a generous death”.

So what could be the topic Bin Laden talks about in this tape? Why was the video if recorded last year, not released since then? Why is the US government not releasing the content of the Bin Laden speech to the American people?

A) -  the video was made in 2010 but Bin Laden himself or the As-Sahab staff decided not to release it – maybe because they thought it could harm the secret life and hideout of the Al-Qaida leader or because they realized actually footage was not necessary to deliver the message and instead they released an audio tape of the speech

B)  – the message is not a specific one dealing with an current event like a hostage taking in North Africa, the US drone campaign, the parcel bomb plot or other developments that happened last year but a very universal statement – that can be released at any time, for example a speech where Bin Laden talks about his own death.

C) – the Bin Laden speech deals with a very specific event and the Al-Qaida founder talks about for example: the parcel bomb plot by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The attacks failed in October 2010 but maybe Bin Laden recorded the tape in case the bomb successfully exploded in the United States

D) – the video message could be one recorded as a claim of responsibility for an attack that was not yet carried out  for example: the alleged “Euro-Plot”

Until the Pentagon releases a transcript or the audio of the video, Al-Qaida releases the tape or a US official says in a statement what Bin Laden talks about, we will not find out what his final tape was about.

The fact that it seems to be ready for release until the US Special Forces got hold of it, could very well mean the As-Sahab distributors, those releasing the propaganda to the Internet forums, are already in possession of the tape. A Pentagon statement after the Abbottabad raid said, it is likely a new tape of Bin Laden will appear soon as he recorded one shortly before his death. It contains the usual propaganda, the Pentagon said, so it shouldn´t be a surprise for the public.

Al-Qaida itself highlighted in the eulogy statement to its Amir, that a message of Bin Laden, recorded in the week before he was killed, will be released soon, also dealing with the events in North Africa.

A few weeks ago I interviewed Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA´s “Alec-Station” known as the “Bin Laden-Unit”. I asked him why since 2007 there was no new video apprearence of the Al-Qaida leader. Scheuer´s answer was mainly his own opinion but still a very interesting thought:

“The one thing Bin Laden knows that we have long since forgotten: there is power in silence. I suspect we keep getting audios, there won´t be a video till he attacks again in the United States. After that occurs we get a video in which he talks to the American people in sorrow rather than anger, saying: I warned you about this.”

American Omar Hammami Killed in Somalia?

by Florian Flade

Omar Hammami is the American face of the Somali Jihad. He was featured in various propaganda videos from the region and called other Americans to join the Islamist Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahidin Movement. Now rumors of his death are spreading after the latest government military offensive against Al-Shabaab.

Omar Hammami aka “Abu Mansour al-Amrikki”

Charismatic militants, Western Jihadis who left the safety of their homeland to fight alongside Islamist groups, are by far the most powerful recruiting tool of al-Qaida today. Especially American citizens, born and raised in a country whom the terrorist have declared their main enemy, are used by al-Qaida to promote propaganda and regional conflicts.

One of those recruiting and propaganda tools is Omar Hammami of Daphne, Alabamda. The 26 year-old American citizen, a son of a Syrian father and an American Christian mother, is the American face of the Jihad in Somalia. Hammami became a fundamentalist Salafi Muslim in college and dropped out of school later. In 2004 he moved to Canada and married a Canadian Somali woman. The following year, in June 2005, the couple moved to Egypt and settled first in Alexandria, then in Cairo, where their daughter was born. Hammami told is parents he wants to study at Cairo´s Al-Azhar University.

In November 2006 Hammami traveled from Egypt to Somalia to visit members of his wife´s family. According to his father, Omar Hammami´s passport was stolen and he then stranded in Somalia. Eventually he stayed in the country and somehow joined the militant Al-Shabaab Movement in their fight against Ethiopian troops who had invaded Somalia back then. Al-Jazeera interviewed the American Jihadi in October 2007 in the Somali bush. Hammami was dressed in a military uniform, hiding his face under a scraf wrapped around his head. He called himself “Abu Mansour the American”.

Al-Shabaab – which allied itself with al-Qaida by swearing the oath to Osama Bin Laden – began using the White American Jihadi for propaganda means and even produced a video featuring mainly Omar Hammami in Spring 2009. “The only reason we are staying here, away from our families, away from the cities, away from candy bars…all these other things is because we are waiting to meet with the enemy”, Hammami said in the propaganda tape in which he also presents an English rap song about Jihad.

“From Somalia and Shishan (Chechnya), from Iraq and Afghanistan, gonna meet up in the Holy Lands, establishing Allah’s Law on the land” – the American Jihadi sung. Martyrdom, Hammami said in the refrain, was his greatest wish.

According to the 2009 propaganda tape, “Abu Mansour al-Amrikki” took part in several ambushes on Ethiopian and African Union (AU) troops in Southern Somalia. The last time Omar Hammami appeared in a Al-Shabaab video – giving a speech during a children´s Quran recitation contest in Somalia – was in April 2010. Since then, no word has been spread about the whereabouts of the American Al-Shabaab fighter.

Somali Defense Minister Abdihakim Mohamud Haji Fiqi told news agencies last week, he got intelligence reports stating Hammami was killed or severely injured in a recent government troops´offensive against Al-Shabaab in and around Mogadishu. Their was no 100 percent confirmation on the report, the Defense Minister said, but it seemed credible the American Jihadi was wounded in battle and later died.

Till today, no word of Hammami´s death has reached the Jihadi forums – not even the Somali-language ones. Although Al-Shabaab did not announce the death of its American or just in general foreign fighters with a huge eulogy posting on the forums or a video release, it is very likely the organization will celebrate the martyrdom of its most prominent Western recruit, if Hammami was indeed killed.

A number of American Al-Shabaab fighters died in recent years fighting in Somalia. At least six young men from the Minneapolis region were killed in battle with African Union troops, most of them were American-Somalis, second-generation immigrants and natural-born US citizens. They all had traveled to civil war torn Somalia without informing their parents and joined with Al-Shabaab.

If Omar Hammami did die recently he is the second White American to be killed in Somalia. Troy Matthew Kastigar from Minnesota, a HipHop loving, tattooed former criminal, had converted to Islam and made the journey to Somalia in November 2008. When he arrived in Kenya he contacted his parents for the last time, saying he is now moving into Somalia.

Early September 2007, Kastigar´s family back in the US confirmed media reports that Troy had been killed by Somali government troops in clashes with the Islamists of Al-Shabaab.

 

“Letter to the People of France” – Bin Laden Audio Message

by Florian Flade


About one week after Al-Jazeera broadcasted the most recent audio tape of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, As-Sahab media has officially released the terrorist leader´s message on the Internet forums.

Titled “Letter from the Warrior-Sheikh Osama Bin Laden to the People of France”, the tape is partially warning and explanation by Bin Laden.

Here is the English translation of the audio message provided by blogging colleague Aaron Azelin of jihadology.net


“Peace is upon those who follow the guidance.

The topic of my speech is the reason why your security is being threatened and your sons are being taken hostage.

The taking of your experts in Niger as hostages, while your agent [government] was protecting them, is a reaction to the injustice you are partaking against our Muslim nation.

Is it fair that they contributed in the occupation of our country and stand by the American’s in the killing of our children and women, and then you want to live in peace and security?

Is it fair that you intervene in the affairs of Muslims, especially in North and West Africa, support your agents against us, and take a lot of our wealth in suspicious deals, while our people suffer various forms of poverty and despair?

If you unjustly thought that it is your right to prevent free Muslim women from wearing the ḥijāb, is it not our right to expel your invading men and cut their necks? Of course we do.

Yes, the equation is simple and clear: as you kill, you will be killed; as you take others hostage, you will be taken hostage; as you wreck our security we will wreck your security, and the fault lies with the one who initiates.

The way for preserving the security of your is to remove all your injustice and its effects off our people and most importantly, withdrawal of your forces from Bush’s wicked war in Afghanistan. It is high time that the so-called direct and indirect colonialism come to an end. You should consider the state to which the U.S. has deteriorated as a result of this unjust war. It has reached the verge of bankruptcy in all the major areas, and tomorrow, it will return beyond the Atlantic [Ocean], God willing.

Happy is he who learns from the lessons of others, and peace is upon those who follow the guidance.”