Usama bin Laden has returned to the public eye with his first video diatribe in almost three years. The tape made a number of references that seem to indicate it was recently produced, such as a mention about Nicolas Sarkozy's new leadership of France, but US officials haven't yet offered an assessment of its age, or officially confirmed the speaker is really bin Laden.
The man speaking on the tape looks to be bin Laden, albeit with black dye covering the graying of his beard. He makes no overt threats of violence, but tells the American public it is guilty of murder for the deaths of those in the Iraq and Afghan conflicts.
In a transcript obtained by ABC News (see below), bin Laden tells the American people, "You made one of your greatest mistakes, in that you neither brought to account nor punished those who waged this war, not even the most violent of its murderers, Rumsfeld...."
"You permitted Bush to complete his first term, and stranger still, chose him for a second term, which gave him a clear mandate from you -- with your full knowledge and consent -- to continue to murder our people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Then you claim to be innocent! The innocence of yours is like my innocence of the blood of your sons on the 11th -- were I to claim such a thing."
Though bin Laden blames the public for supporting the war by electing Bush to a second term, he also charged that the electoral power of American democracy pales to the stranglehold of corporate interests on US policy.
"People of America: the world is following your news in regards to your invasion of Iraq, for people have recently come to know that, after several years of tragedies of this war, the vast majority of you want it stopped. Thus, you elected the Democratic Party for this purpose, but the Democrats haven't made a move worth mentioning. On the contrary, they continue to agree to the spending of tens of billions to continue the killing and war there."
"Why have the Democrats failed to stop this war, despite them being the majority?...The same reasons which led to the failure of former President Kennedy to stop the Vietnam War. Those with with real power and influence are those with the most capital. And since the democratic system permits major corporations to back candidates, be they presidential or congressional, there shouldn't be any cause for astonishment -- and there isn't any -- in the Democrats' failure to stop the war."
Bin Laden also mentions the words of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, which ABC reports refers to an interview taped by a British journalist that the network aired portions of in July.
"It would benefit you to listen to the poignant messages of your soldiers in Iraq, who are paying -- with their blood, nerves and scattered limbs -- the price for these sorts of irresponsible statements," the transcript says.
"Among them is the eloquent message of Joshua which he sent by way of the media, in which he wipes the tears from his eyes and describes American politicians in harsh terms and invites them to join him there for a few days," the statement continues.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Friday would not confirm that a new tape had been received, saying only that the United States follows a standard procedure to analyze any tapes it receives.
"We review it for authenticity, we review it to see when we think it was made, if it's a single tape or a compilation of outtakes. We look to see if there are overt messages or hidden messages," he said.
However, Chertoff told CNN's Jeanne Meserve, "I do think the tape--if there is a tape--is tied to an anniversary."
He said it was not unusual for al Qaeda to release tapes near the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Tuesday will mark six years since the al Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Chertoff said no special alert was in the works.
Complete transcript in English transcript2_2.pdf
Three minute video from As-Sahab