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Bin Laden says U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is 'hopeless'

Osama bin Laden issues a taped message calling on Americans to resolve the conflict with Al Qaeda by ending the war there.

September 15, 2009|Associated Press

CAIRO — Osama bin Laden reportedly said in a new audio message that President Obama's strategy in Afghanistan is "hopeless" and called on Americans to resolve the conflict with Al Qaeda by ending the war there and breaking the U.S. alliance with Israel.

The message marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, which was attributed to the Al Qaeda leader, avoided Bin Laden's usual rhetoric of jihad and instead took a more analytical tone, claiming his group's differences with the U.S. stemmed from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But analysts said Monday that the message's tone and its unusually short length -- only 11 minutes, far shorter than others attributed to Al Qaeda -- were an indication that the group was struggling to maintain interest eight years after its most shattering attacks.

"You might interpret this as a sign of weakness, the suggestion being that they don't really want to fight the U.S.," Jeremy Binnie, an analyst with Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center, said of the speaker's tone.

Arabs and Muslims' more positive feelings toward Obama are believed to have helped deflate Al Qaeda's anti-U.S. rhetoric, which found a receptive audience during the administration of George W. Bush, who was widely resented in the region. In addition, the Iraq war has become less prominent as violence eased.

On the tape, the speaker sought to depict Obama as merely continuing Bush's policies. "If you end the [Afghanistan] war, so be it, but otherwise we will continue the war of attrition against you," he said.

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