Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Firas Al-Atraqchi: Misleading the Public

Misleading the Public


By Firas Al-Atraqchi

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State dropped a bombshell at a Congressional hearing on Iraq and revealed that he had a transcript of an 'upcoming' audio message from Osama bin Laden which betrays the links between bin Laden and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

However, the White House may have put its foot in its mouth this time around.

Upon careful scrutiny of the audio message from bin Laden (and broadcast at 3pm EST on the Arabic News Network Al-Jazeerah), it appears the Bush administration may have been so desperate to pin anything on Saddam and bin Laden that they did not wait to actually hear the contents of the message, nor provide adequate and reliable translation.

The bin Laden message expresses solidarity with the Iraqi people, advises them to remain steadfast in the coming invasion of their country and declares that Saddam and his aides are not important. "It is not important if Saddam and his government disappear," the man thought to be bin Laden says. "This is a war against you, the Muslims, and you must take arms to defend yourselves."

U.S. officials were quick to point out that the bin Laden message directly incriminates Iraq and proves the existence of ties between bin Laden's Al-Qaida and Saddam. U.S. media touted the official line before even hearing the tape, or awaiting a reliable translation. "Undeniably links Iraq with Al-Qaida," says one CNN anchor.

And then something happened that neither the U.S. administration nor the media anticipated: bin Laden called Saddam an apostate.

The audio message goes on to reveal that bin Laden believes Saddam to be a socialist, and declares "socialists and communists are unbelievers," thereby labelling Saddam an apostate of Islam, an infidel. It is worth mentioning that the government of Iraq is quasi-socialist and secular, and not Islamic.

Walid Phares, an Arabic-speaking MSNBC Analyst finds that the audio message undermines Saddam's regime: "Osama bin Laden does not care about Saddam in fact he can't wait till the demise of Saddam; he is trying to position himself to offer Iraqis an alternative ideology - he calls socialism abhorrent to Islam."

The voice alleged to be bin Laden's in the audio message also called on the spilling of Saddam's blood: "His blood is halal." This wording is used to indicate what is permissive or legally allow for the killing of a usurper or criminal.

The audio message also called for the overthrow of governments supporting the U.S. - Nigeria, Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

If bin Laden is effectively calling on Muslim Iraqis to overthrow Saddam and that Saddam is irrelevant in the coming war and Iraqis should not fight for him, how then can the U.S. administration use this message to prove Saddam and Al-Qaida are linked?

That question left some analysts baffled.

Kenneth Pollack, CNN analyst and anti-terrorism specialist, says that this is not the first time that bin Laden has used the plight of Iraq under sanctions and under Saddam to rally Muslims to his cause. In fact, bin Laden has spoken of the Iraqi issue since 1996, and has not hidden the fact that he is growing distaste for Saddam's socialist, Baathist regime.

"The October audio message this year was a four minute tape and bin Laden expressed sympathy for the Iraqi people," says Peter Bergen, CNN consultant on terrorism. "I don't see today's audio message as endorsing Saddam," he concludes.

If anything, bin Laden's message directed to the people, not leadership of Iraq, (any Arab speaker with two ears can testify that the opening lines of the audio message distinctly declare that this is a message to the Iraqi people) is ambiguous as pertains to alleged links with Saddam.

Nevertheless, U.S. officials maintain that this is all the proof they need. However, the U.S. viewing public must be aware that the they were only allowed to view excerpts of the 16-minute audio message, and contrary to what CNN has been proclaiming, it is not all about Iraq. The audio message also includes advice on refraining from alcohol and illicit sex, and respecting one's parents, in addition to other spiritual advice.

The audio message will not go down so easily in Europe and the Middle East and will be seen as a desperate attempt by a U.S. administration that has taken a bashing in Nato and at the U.N. to turn the tables around.

According to the BBC, "BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, said the figure on the tape voiced support for Iraq, but that in no way did it prove a link between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi leadership."

Arabic speakers are sure to pour scorn on the official U.S. line. U.S. Congressional leaders, who have appeared on talk shows immediately following the excerpted broadcast of the audio tape have alluded to incorrect translations of the original Arabic content.

By default, the U.S. public is offered a half-censored, half-baked version of the audio tape.

While U.S. officials have conceded that the voice on the tape is indeed that of bin Laden, no one has bothered to focus on why the man U.S. President Bush vowed to get "dead or alive" is very much alive and a clear and present danger.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

The Conversation: Rogue Poll Or Not, All The Signs Point To A Tectonic Shift In New Zealand Politics

Richard Shaw AAP(various)/NZ Greens (CC-BY-SA)/The Conversation Strong team. More jobs. Better economy. So say the National Party’s campaign hoardings. Only thing is, last Sunday’s Newshub-Reid Research poll – which had support for the Labour ... More>>

Dunne Speaks: It's Time For Matariki Day

The period of Matariki, the celebration of the Māori New Year, which began earlier this week, is being celebrated increasingly as an important national event. While many other countries have their own form of New Year celebrations, Matariki is uniquely ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Shouldn’t Be Pushed Into Re-Opening Our Borders

I believe in yesterday as much as Paul McCartney, but it was bemusing to see the amount of media attention lavished last week on the pandemic-related musings by former government science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman, former Prime Minister Helen Clark ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Media Collusion With National’s Attack Lines

For most of the past week, any consumer of this country’s management of Covid-19 would think New Zealand was actually Brazil, or Texas. The media language has been full of claims of “botches” at the border, and laxness and inexcusable errors ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>