TOM JOSCELYN on USAMA’S TAPE

January 20, 2006

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From Thomas Joscelyn of the Weekly Standard

UPDATE: Although I think the Times’s reporting is correct and it is “not immediately clear when the tape was made,” it was made fairly recently. Bin Laden discusses the allegation that President Bush threatened to bomb Al Jazeera. That allegation itself was tossed around only fairly recently in the press. We’ll say – roughly – the end of 2005 into this month. So, the tape makes reference to fairly recent events.UPDATE #2: According to MEMRI, bin Laden did not offer a truce. He merely offered, in MEMRI’s words, “to accept and uphold a long-term truce [if America offers it to him].” This cuts against most of the reporting, which currently holds that bin Laden “offered a truce.” (Hat tip: Kathryn Jean Lopez @ The Corner.)UPDATE #3: John Hinderaker at Power Line offers his own analysis, which I agree with, on the meaning behind the tape. John writes, “It doesn’t take a genius to see that things are going very badly for bin Laden and al Qaeda. Where does he turn for hope? To American opinion polls–which, of course, he reads very selectively. …”UPDATE #4: I knew that the allegation that President Bush threatened to bomb Al Jazeera was first made in late 2005, but MSNBC gives a more precise dating: “In the tape, bin Laden refers to an alleged comment by President Bush about bombing the Qatar headquarters of Al-Jazeera, which was first reported in the British press on Nov. 22.” So, that would fix the earliest possible date at which the tape could have been made at Nov. 22-23.But MSNBC also adds, “Arab television station Al Jazeera, which aired the tape, said it was dated to the Muslim lunar month which corresponds to January. The station said earlier the tape dated from December.”UPDATE #5: Steven Emerson says that bin Laden’s bluster “is still bluster.”

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