In what is reported to be his last missive, Osama bin Laden threatened President Obama with renewed attacks as long as the U.S. continues to support Israel. Just one week later, the al Qaeda leader was killed at the hands of a covert team of Navy SEALs while hiding in his million-dollar compound in Pakistan.
In the audiotape, bin Laden addressed President Obama specifically: "America will not be able to dream of security until we live in security in Palestine. It is unfair that you live in peace while our brothers in Gaza live in insecurity," he said. The tape was posted online in a forum for al Qaeda communications, as quoted by Agence-France Presse.
"Accordingly, and with the will of God, our attacks will continue against you as long as your support for Israel continues," bin Laden said.
The leadership of al Qaeda last week confirmed bin Laden's death and promised that his last audiotape, recorded a week before the al Qaeda leader's death, would soon be released. The Islamist website that broadcast the audio said this bin Laden tape was his last before he died. However, it's possible that as the U.S. analyzes the trove of information it obtained in the raid on bin Laden's compound, it may uncover more audio statements.
Bin Laden said the thwarted Christmas Day bomb plot in 2009, when Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to explode a bomb hidden in his underwear on a flight bound for Detroit, was meant to send a message to the U.S. from the al Qaeda network. "If it were possible to send you messages by way of words, we would not have had to use planes to send them to you," bin Laden said on the tape. "So the message we wanted to convey through the plane of our hero, the fighter Umar Farouk, may God be with him, confirms a previous message which had been sent to you by our heroes of September 11."
This is not the first time that bin Laden has threatened Obama with attacks in one of his audio or video messages. In June 2009, just before Obama's speech at Cairo University calling for a "new beginning" between the U.S. and the Muslim world, bin Laden issued another audio message accusing the president of pressuring Pakistan to block Islamic law and root out militants in the country. That message was broadcast a few months after the Pakistani military had launched a major operation in the country's northwest Swat Valley, where the Pakistani Taliban had begun to seize land close to Islamabad. In that audiotape, bin Laden accused the Obama administration of leading a campaign of "killing, fighting, bombing, and destruction" that ousted a "million" Muslims from the Swat Valley.
"Obama and his administration have sown new seeds to increase hatred and revenge on America," bin Laden said at the time. "The number of these seeds is equal to the number of displaced people from Swat Valley." The Swat Valley is not far from Abbottabad, Pakistan, where bin Laden was found to have been hiding for the last several years.
Some U.S. government officials have credited the pro-democracy protest movement as dampening the narrative of extremism within the Middle East and North Africa, saying the so-called "Arab Spring" could now provide a competing-and compelling-alternative to terrorism.
Even though bin Laden's most recent tape made no mention of the pro-democracy movement, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said in a statement that bin Laden's message was intended to spur his followers to renew attacks against the West in the wake of the protests that ousted strongman leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.
"Do not cry for him.... Instead rise and go on his path.... Rise and thwart the American Zionist Western unjust aggression with all of your power and energy," AQIM said in a statement, as quoted by AFP. "These events that are storming through the Arab region are only a fruit among the fruits of jihad in which the Sheikh [bin Laden] had a prominent role."