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Osama bin Lenin.

In his election-eve video message delivered to the Arab network al-Jazeera, terrorist chieftain Osama bin Laden "repositioned himself as the only leader willing to confront the world's sole superpower," commented veteran foreign correspondent (and Council on Foreign Relations member) Arnaud de Borchgrave in a November 1 column.

The "world's most wanted terrorist" has been "living and hiding in Pakistan for almost three years, where he evidently enjoys high-ranking protection," de Borchgrave continued. This gives him a secure base of operations to carry out his role "as the leader of disenfranchised Arabs and other Muslims who seek the liberation of Palestine and the downfall of the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East and absolute monarchies and emirates of the Gulf."

Bin Laden's message came as the ailing (now deceased) terrorist leader Yasser Ararat was rushed to a hospital in France, thereby allowing Osama a "revolutionary vacancy" to exploit. He is also likely aware of the fact that "countless Muslims, surveyed by the Pew Foundation two years in a row, trust him more than George W. Bush," observed de Borchgrave. "In Muslim countries with a combined population of 450 million, bin Laden was a clear winner as a 'freedom fighter' over the U.S. president. In Morocco and Jordan, two traditionally pro-Western countries ... Mr. Bush's trust level was less than 10 percent of the people in either country. Bin Laden also scored majorities among the 6 million mostly poverty-stricken North Africans living in slums on the outskirts of France's major cities. Similar paeans echoed among one million South Asians living in the greater London region."

In his videotaped speech, bin Laden brazenly depicted himself as the leader of a pan-Muslim "nation," and as avenger of historic wrongs (whether real or fabricated) committed by the West. He gloated that it "has not been difficult to deal with the Bush administration," that it has been "easy for us to provoke and bait this administration," and that he and his comrades are "continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.... And so it has appeared to some analysts and diplomats that the White House and us are playing as one team ... even if the intentions differ."

Bin Laden laced his address with other provocative remarks, perhaps the most significant of which was a comment about "lectures at the Royal Institute of International Affairs" (RIIA). The RIIA is the British equivalent of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations. The impression left by the videotaped message was that bin Laden, far from being "marginalized," as President Bush insisted in early 2002, is healthy, well-informed, secure, canny, and more dangerous than ever.
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Title Annotation:Insider Report
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 29, 2004
Previous Article:Robert W. Lee, R.I.P.
Next Article:Post-election economic tremors.

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