ARAB-US RELATIONS - Oct 29 - Bin Laden Shocks US.
In a video surfacing more than a year, Al Qaeda leader Bin Laden
makes a dramatic intervention in the US presidential race, by releasing
a videotape warning of possible new terror attacks against the US.
Addressed to the American people, the tape jolted the campaign by
drawing attention to Pres Bush's failure to capture the
world's most-wanted terrorist but also the security threat the
country still faces. The Al Qaeda leader Bin Laden's decision to
release a video-taped message before the US election follows two
previous attempts by the terrorist group or its adherents to influence
political events. The video, disrupted both camps' plans of
campaigning and injected an element of uncertainty into the deadlocked
contest. The tape's release just four days before polling day
revived memories of the attack by Al Qaeda sympathisers in Madrid in
March, which led to the defeat of the government led by Jose Mar[acute
accent]a Aznar and the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. Derision
for Bush with hints of a deal Bin Laden's last- minute
"October surprise" for the US presidential campaign raised the
spectre of another Al Qaeda attack on America while deriding the
leadership of Pres Bush. Bin Laden said: "Your security is not in
the hands of Kerry or Bush or Al Qaeda. Your security is in your own
hands". He says the "best way to avoid another Manhattan"
was to stop threatening the security of Muslims. He admits direct
responsibility for the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, saying:
"We decided to destroy towers in America". But he added
"Despite entering the fourth year after September 11, Bush is still
deceiving you and hiding the truth from you and therefore the reasons
are still there to repeat what happened". The reappearance of
America's most wanted man little over three days before the
election has the potential to cut both ways with voters. On the one
hand, the vivid evidence that Bin Laden is still at large could boost
Kerry's argument that the president has failed to follow through on
his rhetoric in the war on terror.