Bin Laden Expert: He's Winning
Former CIA Analyst Says New Video Shows West Is Losing Fight Against Al Qaeda, Warns
"I think there's an overwhelming threat in it. Bin laden, again, offered us a chance to convert to Islam, which is required in their religion before they attack us."
Former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer
(CBS) "People of America," he says, "lend me your ears."
So says the most wanted man in the world, Osama bin Laden, appearing in a new videotape which has surfaced nearly six years after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
In it, he rails against Western corporations, neoconservatives, and Democrats in Congress, telling Americans they had voted for Democrats to stop the war, but in his words, the majority party hasn’t made a move worth mentioning.
CBS News consultant Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst and author of "Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror" and "Through Our Enemies' Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam, and the Future of America" (Potomac), has been critical of the administration's efforts to capture bin Laden, and says the newly-released video shows an al Qaeda leader taunting the U.S. for failing to catch him.
Scheuer spent years tracking al Qaeda as the head of the CIA's bin Laden unit.
Discussing the video with CBS Saturday Early Show anchor Maggie Rodriguez, Scheuer said, "First of all, the setting is very relaxed, very comfortable. He is not in his camouflaged jacket. There's no rifle. What he is trying to say is that he is under no pressure from the Americans. The Americans are failing in their effort to kill him, and in their effort to destroy al Qaeda."
Of our progress in battling al Qaeda, Scheuer said, "It points directly to the fact that we failed utterly in Afghanistan to send enough either intelligence officers or military people.
"You know, we have about 30,000 troops there, and we've asked them to defeat the Taliban, keep President Karzai's government in power, build a democracy, eradicate the opium industry - and in their spare time go after Osama bin Laden."
The mere appearance of bin Laden, four years after the last new video recording and six years after the 9/11 attacks, "is the reminder of a failed policy."
The tape's script seems calculated to authenticate its currency by including pointed references to the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, both of whom took office earlier this year.
Informed sources tell CBS News they now believe he is holed up in a rugged no-man's land in Northern Pakistan.
"Well, I think they're blowing a little bit of smoke," Scheuer said. "They have to say something now that he is back in the public eye, but if you look at the territory, it is impossible to find any single person up there, and we don't have enough people to do it, and we respect Pakistan's sovereignty. I guess they're not going to go into Pakistan."
Bin Laden makes mention of Scheuer's writings, saying in the tape, "If you would like to get to know what some of the reasons for your losing your war against us, then read the book by Michael Scheuer."
Scheuer said the referral makes the point that the former CIA analyst communicates what recent American presidents have not said about the nation's war against Islamic fundamentalism.
"The war is motivated on the enemy's side by the impact of our policies," he said. "It's not about democracy. It's not about women's rights. It's not about freedom or elections. It has everything to do with the impact of our foreign policy in the Muslim world. It's not to say that our policy is wrong, it's simply to try to understand the motivation of your enemy."
The Intel Center, an independent analysis group which has studied the tape, said that bin Laden makes no overt threat, no indication of an impending attack upon America or its citizens. Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff has also said there is no reason to push the panic button now.
But Scheuer is not convinced.
"The Intel Center is almost always right," he said. "I think there's an overwhelming threat in it. Bin laden, again, offered us a chance to convert to Islam, which is required in their religion before they attack us. So to say there's no threat in this message is just 180 degrees incorrect."
And the timing of the message, on the eve of the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, "is not a coincidence at all."
"He is gloating. They think they're winning, and I think they're probably correct at the moment."
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