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Jun 4th, 2009

Bin Laden’s Message a Sign He’s Worried?

Experts say Obama’s overtures toward Muslims undercut terror leader


Bin Laden emerges from the shadows (NBC Nightly News, June 3, 2009) — Shortly after President Obama landed in Saudi Arabia Wednesday, new audio messages surfaced from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, claiming Obama is planting seeds of hatred. NBC Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reports. (02:18)

The Associated Press via NBC News
June 3, 2009

CAIRO — A day before President Barack Obama is to deliver a speech here seeking goodwill with the Islamic world, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden tried in a new message Wednesday to convince Muslims they should hate him.

The message was the second from al-Qaida in as many days criticizing Obama, a PR offensive that analysts said shows the terrorist organization worries the new president will succeed in improving America’s image in the Muslim world and undermine the group’s jihad, or holy war.

“Obama’s election is just about the worst thing that could have happened to these guys,” said Tom Sanderson, a terrorism expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They knew right away that his election undermined a key part of their argument that the U.S. was anti-Islamic, that the U.S. was racist.” …

Obama’s speech at Cairo University on Thursday is part of a campaign to prove he differs from former President George W. Bush, whose invasion of Iraq and aggressive counterterrorism tactics stoked Muslim ire and helped al-Qaida rally support.

Al-Qaida has tried to counter that message by painting Obama as no different from Bush, highlighting U.S. involvement in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

Bin Laden says Obama inflamed hatred

In his audiotape, aired on Al-Jazeera television, bin Laden said Obama has inflamed hatred toward the U.S. by ordering Pakistan to crack down on militants and block Islamic law there.

He claimed U.S. pressure led to a campaign of “killing, fighting, bombing and destruction” that prompted the exodus of a million Muslims from the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan. He was referring to a Pakistani military campaign against the Taliban that began in April, an indication the tape was made since then.

“Obama and his administration have sown new seeds to increase hatred and revenge on America,” bin Laden said. “The number of these seeds is equal to the number of displaced people from Swat Valley.” …

On Tuesday, al-Qaida’s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, said in an audio message [link added] that Obama’s upcoming speech would not change Muslim sentiment because of the “bloody messages” the U.S. military is sending in Afghanistan and Iraq. …

Obama popular in Mideast

Obama is popular in the Middle East, in part because of his friendly words toward Islam, his promises to withdraw from Iraq and his own personal background. Still many Arabs also remain skeptical how deeply he will change U.S. policy, which they see as biased toward Israel.

Sanderson said Obama’s approach could make it harder for al-Qaida to recruit supporters and raise money. …

[Bin Laden’s] harsh rhetoric in Wednesday’s message could indicate he has become more concerned about Obama’s impact.

“They have been trying to present him as a continuation of the old policies and discredit him,” Jeremy Binnie, an analyst with Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in Britain, said. “I think to a certain extent that it shows they are worried by this guy.” …


Related reports

Al-Qaida no. 2 criticizes Obama’s upcoming Cairo speech
(June 3, 2008)

Al-Qaida no. 2 insults Obama with race epithet
(Nov. 19, 2008)


6/4/09 Update

Obama delivers key speech in Cairo (AP, June 4, 2009) — Quoting from the Quran for emphasis, President Barack Obama called for a “new beginning between the United States and Muslims” Thursday and said together, they could confront violent extremism across the globe and advance the timeless search for peace in the Middle East. … Full story


Obama reaches out (NBC “Today,” June 4, 2009) — President Obama delivers a major address in Cairo, Egypt, saying that the U.S. and Islam “are not mutually exclusive.” NBC’s Savannah Guthrie reports. (02:16)

Transcript of President Barack Obama’s “A New Beginning” speech in Cairo (PDF)


12/6/09 Update

No U.S. Intel on Bin Laden for ‘Years’

Dec. 6, 2009

WASHINGTON — The United States does not know where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is hiding and has not had any good intelligence on his whereabouts in “years,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday [Dec. 5, 2009].

Speaking in an interview to be aired on Sunday [Dec. 6, 2009] on ABC’s “This Week” program, Gates also said he could not confirm reports this week that a detainee might have seen bin Laden in Afghanistan earlier this year.

“We don’t know for a fact where Osama bin Laden is. If we did, we’d go and get him,” Gates said in excerpts released by ABC.

Asked when was the last time the United States had any good intelligence on his whereabouts, Gates said, “I think it’s been years.”

The British Broadcasting Corp. reported earlier this week that a detainee in Pakistan claimed to have information that bin Laden was in Ghazni in eastern Afghanistan in January or February.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee released a report late last month [link added] that blamed the lack of concerted efforts by former President George W. Bush’s administration and U.S. military commanders for allowing bin Laden to escape from the Tora Bora caves of Afghanistan in late 2001.


The Personality Profile
of al-Qaida Leader Osama Bin Laden

Aubrey Immelman
Unit for the Study of Personality in Politics
July 2002


The report presents the results of an indirect assessment of the personality of Osama bin Laden.

Information concerning bin Laden was collected from open-source biographies and media reports and synthesized into a personality profile using the second edition of the Millon Inventory of Diagnostic Criteria (MIDC), which yields 34 normal and maladaptive personality classifications congruent with Axis II of DSM-IV.

The personality profile yielded by the MIDC was analyzed on the basis of interpretive guidelines provided in the MIDC and Millon Index of Personality Styles manuals. Bin Laden’s primary personality patterns were found to be Ambitious/exploitative and Dauntless/dissenting, with a secondary Distrusting/suspicious orientation, and subsidiary Dominant/controlling and Conscientious/dutiful features.

Ambitious (narcissistic) individuals are bold, competitive, and self-assured; they easily assume leadership roles, expect others to recognize their special qualities, and often act as though entitled. Dauntless persons (adventurous with possible antisocial tendencies) are bold, courageous, and tough; minimally constrained by the norms of society; routinely engage in high-risk activities; not overly concerned about the welfare of others; skilled in the art of social influence; and adept at surviving on the strength of their talents, ingenuity, and wits.

Bin Laden’s blend of Ambitious and Dauntless personality patterns suggests the presence of a syndrome that psychologist Theodore Millon has labeled the “unprincipled narcissist.” This composite character complex combines the narcissist’s arrogant sense of self-worth, exploitative indifference to the welfare of others, and grandiose expectation of special recognition with the antisocial personality’s self-aggrandizement, deficient social conscience, and disregard for the rights of others.

A major implication of the study is that bin Laden does not fit the profile of the highly conscientious, closed-minded religious fundamentalist, nor that of the religious martyr who combines these qualities with devout, self-sacrificing features; rather, it suggests that bin Laden is adept at exploiting Islamic fundamentalism in the service of his own ambition and personal dreams of glory.

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