| Now, bin Laden takes aim at
By B Raman
India's point of view, the most important point in the
message allegedly of Osama bin Laden, broadcast by Al
Jazeera on Tuesday, is the inclusion of Pakistan in the
list of so-called anti-Muslim, apostate states that have
to be liberated by Muslims by waging a jihad against it.
He says, "We also stress to honest Muslims that
they should move, incite and mobilize the [Islamic]
nation, amid such grave events and hot atmosphere so as
to liberate themselves from those unjust and renegade
ruling regimes, which are enslaved by the United States.
They should also do so to establish the rule of god on
earth. The most qualified regions for liberation are
Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the land of the two
holy mosques [Saudi Arabia] and Yemen."
the Islamic parties of Pakistan, constituting the
Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), which came to power in
the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan
after the elections of October 10 last year, and the
various Pakistani components of the bin Laden-led
International Islamic Front (IIF) for jihad against the
US and Israel have been highly critical of the Pervez
Musharraf regime for cooperating with the US in its war
against al-Qaeda and the IIF and for allowing the US
troops and intelligence agencies to operate freely in
Pakistani territory against Muslims, bin Laden has in
the past avoided any criticism of the Musharraf regime
since he and the surviving dregs of al-Qaeda had taken
shelter in that country with the complicity of
Pakistan's military-intelligence establishment since the
beginning of last year and were dependent on the
military regime for their continued survival.
This is the first time that he has spoken
against Pakistan and called for its "liberation" from
the control of the apostates. This shows that he and his
followers, who now enjoy the protection of the
governments of the NWFP and Balochistan and of a large
number of retired officers of the Pakistani army and
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), no longer feel the
need to avoid rubbing Musharraf the wrong way.
His remarks against Pakistan also reflect the
widespread suspicion in the madrassas (religious
schools) of Pakistan that Musharraf has been secretly
cooperating with the US against the present regimes in
Baghdad and Teheran as a quid pro quo for Washington's
closing its eyes to the military regime's role in
transferring military nuclear technology to North Korea.
Bin Laden's message, provided it is genuine as
stated by US intelligence officials, consists of the
Expression of solidarity with the Iraqi Muslims, to
whichever sect (Sunni or Shi'ite or ethnic group (Kurds
or others) to which they may belong, in the coming
"crusade" against the US-led foreign troops.
An attempt to bolster their morale by describing how
a group of hardly 300 mujahideen personally led by him
and Ayman al-Zawahiri of Egypt, his number two, had
fought against the US might at Tora Bora in Afghanistan
after October 7, 2001, and given them the slip.
Guidance as to how Iraqi Muslims could similarly
frustrate the US-led invasion through street battles,
trench warfare and suicide attacks and by creating a
quagmire for them.
Marking his distance from the "socialist" Saddam
Hussein regime, which is also described as apostate
because of its secular policies and its past cooperation
with the US.
At the same time underlining that in the coming
"crusade" against the US-led invaders the true Muslims
could tactically cooperate even with his regime in order
to achieve their ultimate objective of defeating the
"crusaders". He says, "There will be no harm if the
interests of Muslims converge with the interests of the
socialists in the fight against the crusaders, despite
our belief in the infidelity of socialists."
There are some interesting aspects in the way in
which bin Laden's message has been disseminated by CNN
and the BBC. The CNN's initial versions omitted bin
Laden's reference to Pakistan, whereas the BBC referred
to it. The CNN version referred to only Jordan, Morocco,
Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. This likely reflects
Washington's concern over the impact of the message on
the people of Pakistan in their campaign against the
Musharraf regime. While CNN continued to give prominence
to the message in all its news bulletins of Wednesday,
the BBC had started downplaying it. This is apparently
due to the fact that the message clearly shows that
there is no love lost between bin Laden and Saddam and
disproves the allegations of the US and the UK about
Saddam's links with al-Qaeda. US and British spokesmen
have been trying to put on a brave face by claiming that
the message proves the close links between Saddam and
al-Qaeda, but this is not so.
aspect of the message is the lack of any reference to
the Hosni Mubarak government in Cairo. This writer has
been of the view that the reaction to the US-led
invasion could come not from the streets of Baghdad, but
from the streets and barracks of Egypt. One would have
expected bin Laden to have included Egypt, too, in the
list of "apostate" states to be "liberated". Why has he
not done so? It is difficult to answer this question at
present, but it is certainly worth pondering.
B Raman is Additional Secretary (ret),
Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, and presently
director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai; former
member of the National Security Advisory Board of the
Government of India. E-Mail: [email protected] He was also
head of the counter-terrorism division of the Research
& Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence
agency, from 1988 to August, 1994.
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