Bin Laden blasts 'moderate' Arab states over Gaza war
In an audio recording played Saturday by Al Jazeera, the Al Qaeda chief accused Arab states of collaborating "with the Crusader-Zionist alliance" against Muslims.
Osama bin Laden lashed out at "moderate" Arab states in a new statement released to Al Jazeera Saturday night for being "complicit" in "the Holocaust of Gaza."
The 22-day war between Hamas and Israel came to an inconclusive halt on Jan. 19, and killed as many as 1,300 Palestinians, many of them women and children.
"It was clear that some of the Arab leaders have collaborated with the Crusader-Zionist alliance against our people, those whom America calls the moderate leaders," said the Al Qaeda leader, according to The Associated Press. "We must disown ourselves from all those" governments.
Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia maintain close ties with Washington. Of the three, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are absolute monarchies and Egypt is ruled by a de facto President-for-life. Both Jordan and Egypt have signed peace deals with Israel, and enjoy full diplomatic relations and moderate levels of trade with the Jewish state.
Egypt was widely criticized throughout the Arab and Muslim world during the Gaza war for refusing to permanently open its border with the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. It is the only country, besides Israel, to border Gaza and many Arabs and Muslims believed it should have done more to help the victims of the fighting.
Is this anything new?
Not really, according to a US counterterrorism official quoted by Agence France-Presse.
"Al Qaeda addresses these themes with some frequency and at this point, there doesn't appear to be anything new here," the unnamed source told AFP.
"Stressing the lack of correlation between past recordings and Al Qaeda attacks, the official, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said: 'I wouldn't read too much into the timing of the release either.' "
While bin Laden does not specifically attack Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan by name in the recording, the reference is clear. For Cairo, it's one more verbal attack from a man with one of the biggest bullhorns in the world.
"The Gaza holocaust, amid this prolonged embargo, is an important historic event and a catastrophe that shows the necessity of distinguishing Muslims from hypocrites," he said, according to AP.
Second tape in two months
The tape is bin Laden's second in two months to focus on the Gaza conflict, but marks the first time he has laid the blame at Arab leaders' feet.
In January, he called for a jihad against Israel. His latest tape repeats the call, urging Mujahideen first to "liberate" Iraq before pouring into Jordan for an assault on Jerusalem. He called the war in Iraq "a rare and precious chance" to finally liberate Palestine.
"Jordan ... is the best and widest front, and from Jordan the second launching will be toward the West Bank and the borders will be forcibly opened," he said.
Where is bin Laden?
The New York Daily News reports that the Al Qaeda No. 1 is in Chitral, "once a trekkers' paradise in Pakistan that has been sealed off to outsiders and is now regularly buzzed by American spy drones."
An investigation by the paper found that "northwestern Pakistan's impenetrable Hindu Kush mountains – which boast some of the world's tallest climbs – in the Chitral region have been eyed as bin Laden's hideout since 2006."
The paper reported that: "Some intelligence officials downplay Chitral's importance or argue that Bin Laden is in a teeming Pakistani city similar to ones where his aides were nabbed after 9/11 – even though Al Qaeda leaders moved to the tribal areas years ago, where eight top goons have been assassinated in recent months."