Tag Archives: White House

New Abu Yahya al-Libi Videos – Dead or What?

by Florian Flade

Abu Yahya al-Libi in new video message released June 22

Three weeks have passed since a US drone strike in North Waziristan allegedly killed Al-Qaida´s Top commander Abu Yahya al-Libi. Since then Al-Qaida has neither officially confirmed nor denied the death of al-Libi. Question still remains: Is the White House´s claim true or not?

Instead of celebrating the martyrdom of yet another of its leaders Al-Qaida is releasing videos of al-Libi. Last week the terrorist network´s media wing “As-Sahab” released a 17-minute video statement titled “The American Military and Ethics of Wars” in which al-Libi talks about civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

The more interesting details regarding the second new Abu Yahya al-Libi tape within two weeks is: Al-Qaida does not seem to regard him as dead. The organization labels him “Al-Sheikh Al-Mujahid Abu Yahya al-Libi (may Allah protect him)” – the latter phrase indicating the person is still alive. Otherwise the phrase “may Allah have mercy upon him” would be used.

Like the other video message released recently – titled “Tragedies of Ash-Sham: Between the Crimes of the Nusayris and the Plots of the West” – the newest al-Libi tape was allegedly recorded in the Islamic year of 1433. So no indicating the videos were produced after the June 4th drone strike? No.

Al-Qaida could be playing the old game of not confirming or denying a leader´s death and meanwhile releasing all the old footage of the person recorded in recent months. In other cases – for example the death of Atiyyatullah al-Libi – it took months for Al-Qaida to publish a statement.

The Western intelligence community is pretty sure Abu Yahya al-Libi is history…but still lacks the proof.

 

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.”

Khalid or Hamza? – Which Bin Laden Son Was Killed in Abbottabad

by Florian Flade

Osama Bin Laden´s Hideout in Abbottabad

Hamza or Khalid – Which Bin Laden son was killed in the Abbottabad raid? Nothing seems clear even though a lot of details have emerged from the US Navy Seal operation inside Osama Bin Laden´s hideout earlier this week. There are contradictory reports on who was inside the compound at the time of the raid and who was killed, injured or survived the US attack.

John O.Brennan, the chief counterterrorism advisor to President Obama, said in a White House press conference on May 2 that the US Special forces had killed Hamza Bin Laden, the 22 year-old son of the Al-Qaida leader.

Question: Were there any civilian – I mean, how many civilian casualties were there?

MR. BRENNAN: Bin Laden died; the two al Qaeda facilitators – the brothers, who were – the courier and his brother in the compound; bin Laden’s son Hamza; and the woman, presumed to be his wife, who was shielding bin Laden.

Since that press conference it became clear, the woman that assaulted the American soldiers in the room with Osama Bin Laden did survive the raid and was not killed but shot in the leg. From documents found inside the Abbottabad compound it is possible to suggest the woman is Bin Laden´s youngest wife, Amal al-Sadah from Yemen.

Today the New York Times reveals some new details of the Abbottabad raid in a inside account. According to the NYT, the Navy Seals Team first shot a bodyguard of Bin Laden who tried to attack them and then also killed a woman.

“When the commandos moved into the main house, they saw the courier’s brother, who they believed was preparing to fire a weapon. They shot and killed him. Then, as they made their way up the stairs of the house, officials said they killed Bin Laden’s son Khalid as he lunged toward the Seal team.”

So, which account is to be trusted as for now? Was the Bin Laden son who was killed and then obviously taken by the US soldiers along with the body of Osama Bin Laden himself, Khalid or Hamza?

I spoke to Chief Editor of the Arab newspaper “Al-Quds al-Arabi”, Abdel Bari Atwan, who met Bin Laden in November 1996 in Afghanistan. Atwan also had the chance to meet some of Bin Laden´s family members in the Tora Bora caves. He believes it is most likely Hamza Bin Laden, the Al-Qaida leader´s favorite son was the one shot dead by the Americans.

Khalid Bin Laden is of the same age as Hamza and seems to have remained inside Al-Qaida after 9/11. Last year he sent a letter to the Iranian government, urging them to lift the house arrest and travel ban for some members of the Bin Laden family held in a compound near Tehran.

Until further details will be released by the U.S. government or some credible inside sources, speculation will not stop on who was present during the killing of the most wanted man alive.