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Here it was almost three months into the year and we hadn’t heard from Osama bin Laden, normally a regular correspondent with the decadent West.
On Wednesday, from whatever remote mountain hideout he has been holed up in for the last six years, the fugitive terrorist broke his silence with a five-minute audiotape posted on a radical Islamic Web site.
Reading between the lines, his message can only be interpreted as a cry for help: “Please. Somebody, somewhere blow up something so I can take credit for it. I’m dying out here.”
To fire up his followers, bin Laden invoked the printing by Danish newspapers of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, whose image is generally forbidden in Islam. But that was two years ago. Last month, Danish newspapers reprinted one of the cartoons, which they periodically do since the violent overreaction by Muslim militants transformed the issue from one of blasphemy to one of free speech. And, after all, this is Denmark. Really.
He also accused 80-year-old Pope Benedict XVI of being in league with the Danish cartoonists in launching a “new Crusade” against Islam.
Adding to the impression that he’s out of touch, the old boy made no mention of the fifth anniversary this week of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Maybe bin Laden is steamed at the casual way President Bush conflates al Qaeda, bin Laden’s outfit, the genuine article, with the renegade franchise, al Qaeda in Iraq, who bin Laden chided for its violent ways and who are increasingly hated by the Iraqi people.
If bin Laden feels he’s no longer getting the attention he deserves, there’s a simple way to solve that: Come down out of the mountains and show yourself. We can guarantee you the kind of reception you deserve.