The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bin Laden's latest tape written in English, not Arabic, says expert

Former CIA employee Osama's (just WHEN was he taken off the payroll?) latest message provides some much-needed cover for the fear-mongers, war profiteers, and all those who have been working so hard (and profiting from ) the Israel/Palestine-ification of American relations with the Muslim world. In it, Osama threatens the US with more attacks, taunts Bushco a bit, and eventually offers a truce within Iraq and Afghanistan.

Weirdly, he mentions American domestic "opinion polls" at least twice. This is the first time I remember him talking about our political discourse and opinion polls. And wouldn't you know it? OBL agrees with all the people who think Iraq was a huge mistake and we should get out. He also specifically quotes Bush's "fight them over there so we don't fight them here" rhetoric, displaying an attention to American partisan political minutia that I don't recall reading about in his other tapes.

What a bit of good fortune for Mr. Bush. He thinks Iraq is going swimmingly, and can now point to the fact that anyone who disagrees with him shares a point of view with Bin Laden. How conveeeenient.

But here is something even more strange. Middle East politics expert (and presumed Arabic speaker) Mamoun Fandy declared on the PBS Newshour that the language of this tape sounds to him like the speech was written in English and then translated to Arabic.

MAMOUN FANDY: Right, but this particular tape is not terribly inspiring, just looking at the language of it. This is the first tape of bin Laden that has no single verse from the Koran. It does not have the flowery language of Arabic.

It seems to me that it is written in English first, and then translated into Arabic. It is very western style of tape. It is not very characteristic of bin Laden, at least it tells me that the non-Arabic speaking within the al-Qaida network are taking over the organization --

JIM LEHRER: You mean he didn't write this is what you are suggesting?

MAMOUN FANDY: The Arabic speakers in al-Qaida, the parts that are coming from the Arab world, are losing to the non-Arabic speaker, so it's really becoming more of a South Asian organization, rather than an Arab organization.

JIM LEHRER: Do you read it the same?

PAUL PILLAR: -- which may reflect his physical situation somewhere along that frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan where possibly his immediate entourage -- his staff, if you will are Urdu speakers or Pashtu speakers, rather than Arabic speakers, or at least part of them are.

Fandy's conclusion that the style of the speech, so different from all the other Bin Laden tapes, implicates bin Laden's Pakistani and Afghani staff (an implication that Pillar picks up on) does not agree with his earlier observation that the speech was written in English first and is "very Western".

So what's going on here? Just because bin Laden releases a tape which strengthen's Bush's rhetorical domestic position just before the Democrats begin having public hearings on the administration's warrantless wiretapping, and that tape seems to be of a speech written in English and then translated to Arabic, doesn't mean that Karl Rove wrote it and then faxed it to bin Laden. That's a conclusion we just don't have enough evidence to jump to here, though who among us is not cynical enough at this point to believe them capable of it?

Of course, the administration could never consider this tape as another likely possibility: a transparent bit of reverse psychology for the boy king. Keep taunting him, and Bush will continue to give bin Laden what he wants: continued wrecking of the American ship of state against the rocks of an intractable, illegal war, that drains our coffers, destroys our civil liberties, splits our political unity, and creates worldwide empathy for bin Laden's cause.

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