by Florian Flade
„The disaster in Pakistan is very big and it is difficult to describe it…Providing tents, food and medicine is a duty… but the disaster is much bigger than what is being offered.“ –
Who would you image to have said this about the devastating floods that hit large parts of Pakistan in August? UN-Secretary Ban Ki-Moon maybe? Perhaps a Pakistani politician? Representative of an international NGO? U.S.-President Barak Obama?
These words from the mouth of the most wanted man alive, al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, delivered in his newest audio tape released today by al-Qaeda´s media wing As-Sahab. It is very likely authentic and was recorded during the last Ramadan.
Titled „Pause the Methods of Relief Work“, the eleven minute tape, is Bin Laden´s second attempt to put global warming, climate change and its horrible results in form of natural disasters in the focus of his propaganda message.
Back in January the al-Qaeda spoke for the first time about the effects of climate change and about those he holds responsible for it.
„This is a message to the whole world about those responsible for climate change and its repercussions – whether intentionally or unintentionally – and about the action we must take“, Bin Laden started the January-tape.
„Speaking about climate change“, the terrorist explained, „is not a matter of intellectual luxury – the phenomenon is an actual fact.“
Western industrial nations, headed by the United States, are behind global warming and the effects on the poor nations in Africa and Asia, Bin Laden claimed.
In his newest audio message, again the focus is on showing he cares about climate change and about those who are suffering from it. Instead of unleashing a hateful Ramadan speech on Jihad, the victory of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan or about upcoming revenge attacks for the continued drone strikes in Waziristan, Bin Laden is playing the environmentalist card.
Only three days prior to the start of a pre-meeting of members of the United Nations Climate Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, al-Qaeda sends out a message that is very different from the usual call for Jihad.
From 4th to 9th of October U.N. climate talks start in Tianjin (China) as a run-up for the big November conference in Cancun (Mexico).
So I believe the Bin Laden Global Warming-message´s timing is no coincidence. He is picking up a topic of the political world stage.
„The number of victims caused by climate change is very big, bigger than the victims of wars“, he says pointing also to the recent flood tragedy in Pakistan.
Within a few days, Pakistan was flooded by heavy rain, thousands of people were killed, many are still dying, the number of those displaced is unknown, scores of civilians have lost all they owned. More than 20 Million people, the U.N. estimates, are affected by the heavy monsoon rains. International aid is coming in very slowly.
What would you expect Osama Bin Laden to say about all this? He is the symbol of Global Jihad to his supporters and to his enemies, he is the leader of the world´s most radical Islamic movement of our days. To most people Bin Laden is without any doubt the embodiment of an inhuman, murderous ideology shared by bloodthirsty Islamic fascists around the world.
Wouldn´t you think this organization´s leader is so convinced that what he is doing is in fact Allah´s will and order, that he would call the Pakistan flood tragedy a „punishment by Allah“? Isn´t it only consistent to believe Bin Laden would tell the Pakistani people they are suffering now because they left the righteous and only true path of Jihad?
Even Christian fundamentalists argued the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster was carried out by almighty Lord because of all the sins (prostitution, abortion) and disobedience happening in the city of New Orleans. Punishment by God, many fundamentalist Christian leaders said, had come upon the people of New Orleans.
So the plausible reaction by Osama Bin Laden to the suffering of the Pakistani flood victims would be: Allah has sent the floods as a form of punishment, now return to the cause of Jihad against the regime of Islamabad and its Western allies, support the Mujahideen of Taliban and al-Qaeda and thereby fulfill Allah´s will.
But that´s not at all what Bin Laden says in his new audio tape. It is by far not the main message it delivers. The terrorist leader is not only showing sympathy for the victims, praying for them to be accepted as martyrs in paradise, but he is also outlining the necessary strategy for Muslims around the world to avoid and survive natural disasters like the Pakistani floods.
„Action should not be confined to providing emergency aid…but to set up a capable relief task force that has the knowledge and experience needed“, Bin Laden says.
He is presenting an alternative plan to the regular relief work. Bin Laden is calling for the founding and installation an Muslim relief organization, based on locals working to fight the lack of food in regions hit hard by climate change. Agriculture and cattle farming are just two points Bin Laden mentions, saying they should be implemented and sponsored to avoid food-shortage in future-crises.
„Investment in agriculture needs a lot of efforts and yields small gains“, Bin Laden states, „The issue today is not about gains or losses, but about life or death.“
Regions like Sudan and Pakistan are the economic victims of global warming, the Saudi terrorist says, there the effort should be started to provide the population with food, produced by farmers and sponsored by Muslim businessmen. Two million acres of useful harvest land is fallow and left fallow in Sudan, he says, land that could be turned into food-production.
„Traders are the knights of the field“, Bin Laden says, „able to save their nation from famines.“ It is them who shall invest in agriculture of their homelands and secure aid in case of natural disasters.
In addition Bin Laden calls for studies to be carried out in areas of Muslim population living close to rivers and valley. Last year heavy rain caused flooding in the Saudi city of Jeddah. This was a clear result of climate change, Bin Laden claims, only scientific research is able to prevent such disasters by installing early warning systems.
Rather than bringing up Quranic verses proving to the Pakistani people why they deserved Allah´s punishment, Osama Bin Laden provides his solution to fight the effects of global warming in form of a „Muslim Agriculture Reform“.
His message to Muslims has a simple intention: Get independent from foreign aid, get independent from the situation of relying on your current regimes which are stealing the relief money and foreign donations anyway.
Question remains: Why is al-Qaeda turning „Green“? Is it all media strategy to win back those hearts and minds Bin Laden lost in the past years by unchaining the bloodshed of Abu Musab az-Zarqawi in Iraq and by the killing of Muslims in Pakistani cities, Jordanian or Mumbai hotels?
The latest Bin Laden tape, the newest one since March, is not meant as a 9/11-anniversary message nor is it part of the proof-of-life tradition.
In fact there is not even a reason for him to proof he is alive.
Nine years after September 11th 2001, U.S. officials, credible intelligence sources on both sides of the Atlantic as well as leading experts on al-Qaeda agree on: OBL is alive. Even if they differ in their opinion on his whereabouts most experts assume Bin Laden is in one way or another still in contact with al-Qaeda´s commando-leadership in the Afghan-Pakistan tribal region.
Some say the new purely propagandistic agenda of al-Qaeda (the group is not actually starting to develop agricultural land anywhere) was influenced in one way or another by American al-Qaeda member Adam Yahya Gadahn.
Gadahn – a convert who grew up on a goat farm with his leftist parents in Orange County, California – indeed brought in the anti-globalization aspect into al-Qaeda´s media strategy.
I agree with the theory Gadahn pushed al-Qaeda – even if only on the media campaign level – into the environmentalist direction. In 2010 al-Qaeda is lacking broad support from the Muslim side. Although the organization never offered anything other than death (to its members as well as to its enemies), no political or economic agenda, Osama Bin Laden is shifting the main point of his messages from „Why“ to „How“.
Over years the al-Qaeda leader explained to his enemies why they are the targets of attacks, why they will be destroyed, why Jihad is obligation to all Muslims, why Arab regimes are traitors, why the Ummah has to rise up against America and why the killing of unbelievers is justified, be it in the World Trade towers, the trains of London or in an airplane over Detroit.
Now he offers – at least from his point of view – solutions. Bin Laden is giving answers to problems of World Politics even President Obama could not and still cannot solve.
That of course does not mean he is loosing focus on the enemy. The United States are and will always be the prime target for al-Qaeda. Apart from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bin Laden indicates, the U.S. is responsible for the suffering of millions by polluting the environment and causing global warming. The latter is killing more Muslims than wars, Bin Laden says in the new tape, meaning the U.S. is the source of all forms of suffering witnessed today in Muslim countries.
Even if there are no U.S. troops occupying or bombing your country – Bin Laden´s message seems to say to Muslims around the world – you are still the victims of America.
In January Bin Laden cited American Philosopher and Political Analyst Noam Chomsky in proving his point of America´s guilt. „Noam Chomsky was correct when he compared the US policies to those of the Mafia“, Bin Laden said, „They are the true terrorists and therefore we should refrain from dealing in the US dollar and should try to get rid of this currency as early as possible.“
Step by step Osama Bin Laden is trying to denude his biggest enemy President Barak Obama by taking on all those issues, the new U.S. president is not able to solve. While Obama has not accomplished his goal of winning back Muslim hearts and minds in general, he clearly won back sympathy for America his predecessor had lost in eight years after 9/11.
To turn Obama into the devil leading a crusade out of the White House, is – except from the drone wars and bombing of Yemen – a tough task for al-Qaeda.
Without any doubt the current U.S. President is one reason for Bin Laden to turn into a Jihadi-Environmentalist. Obama sets a moral guideline Osama Bin Laden tries to follow by getting into serious problems of worldwide dimension.
Author, play-writer and journalist Lawrence Wright (author of Pulitzer-awarded „The Looming Tower“) thinks al-Qaeda has no real plans when it comes to politics or economy. „Nobody ever asked Bin Laden: By the way, what economic model do you follow? Are you a Marxist? A Capitalist?“, Wright argues.
True. Al-Qaeda never imagined to solve the real problems of the Muslim world, its leaders never thought about economy or education.
At least on the environment-level Bin Laden answered Mr.Wright´s question – „I´m a Jihadi Al Gore“.