WASHINGTON (AFP) – Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden warned President Barack Obama that he is “powerless” to halt the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and must rethink his policy on Israel, in his first message for three months.
The message, which accused “neo-conservatives” of maintaining a grip on the White House, was released on Sunday, two days after America marked the eighth anniversary of Al-Qaeda’s September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
Titled “Message to the American People,” the video — released by the As-Sahab media branch of Al-Qaeda — features a still image of bin Laden and an audio statement, said the IntelCenter US monitoring group.
Bin Laden said that among “some other injustices,” US support to Israel motivated Al-Qaeda to launch the September 11 attacks, IntelCenter reported.
He also said the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were driven by the pro-Israeli lobby in the White House and by corporate interests — and not by concern about Islamic militants.
“If you think about your situation well, you will know that the White House is occupied by pressure groups,” he said.
“Rather than fighting to liberate Iraq — as Bush claimed — it (the White House) should have been liberated.”
Bin Laden harangued Obama for keeping appointees of Republican President George W. Bush such as Defense Secretary Robert Gates and General Robert Petraeus as head of US Central Command running the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Reasonable people knew that Obama is a powerless man who will not be able to end the war as he promised, but rather, will continue it to the highest point possible,” said the Al-Qaeda chief.
“The bitter truth is that the neo-conservatives continue to cast their heavy shadows upon you.”
Bin Laden urged Americans to pressure the White House to end the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and US support to Israel, rather than succumb to what he called “the ideological terrorism” exercised by neo-conservatives.
If the wars are not ended “all we will do is to continue the war of attrition against you on all possible axes, like we exhausted the Soviet Union for 10 years until it collapsed with grace from Allah the Almighty and became a memory of the past,” bin Laden said.
If Americans want to end their confrontation with Al-Qaeda they must reconsider their attitude towards Israel, bin Laden said. “Put the file of your alliance with Israelis on the discussion table,” he stated.
“Ask yourselves to determine your position: is your security, your blood, your children, your money, your jobs, your homes, your economy, and your reputation dearer to you than the security of the Israelis, their children and their economy?
“If you choose your security and cessation of war, and this is what the polls have shown, this requires you to work to punish those on your side who play with our security,” Bin Laden said.
“We are ready to respond to this choice on aforementioned sound and just bases.”
Bin Laden typically releases such a statement annually around September or October.
The last audiotape by the Al-Qaeda leader was released on June 3. In that missive he scorned Obama’s overture to the Islamic world and warned of decades of conflict ahead.
That audiotape aired on the Al-Jazeera satellite news channel less than an hour after Obama landed in Saudi Arabia, bin Laden’s home country, at the start of a Middle East tour.
Bin Laden has a 50-million-dollar bounty on his head and has been in hiding for the past eight years.
Intelligence officials, military analysts and other experts have long believed he is hiding along the remote mountainous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In March, an audio attributed to bin Laden accused some Arab leaders of being “complicit” with Israel and the West against Muslims and urged holy war to liberate the Palestinian territories.
The same month, he urged the overthrow of the Somali president.