Osama bin Laden on the state of Iraq

Osama bin Laden in 1998. Click to view.

After almost a year of silence, Osama bin Laden has issued his third tape in less than two months. Based on excerpts from bin Laden’s latest audiotape, titled “Message to the people of Iraq,” he views the situation in Iraq as dire. Bin Laden is clearly concerned with the defection of Sunni insurgents to the Awakening movements and local security forces, the possibility of the Sunnis reconciling with the government, and the failure of al Qaeda leaders to unite the Sunni fighters under al Qaeda’s banner.

Bin Laden takes on the failure of al Qaeda leaders to recruit Sunni insurgent groups into the fold of the Islamic State of Iraq, and the defection of previous allies to the Iraqi government and Coalition forces. “Some of you have been lax in one duty, which is to unite your ranks,” bin Laden said. “Beware of division … Muslims are waiting for you to gather under a single banner to champion righteousness. Be keen to oblige with this duty.” According to the Associated Press, bin Laden said leaders should not build themselves up as the sole authority, and instead mujahedeen should follow “what God and his prophet have said.”

Bin Laden also acknowledges the grave errors made by the leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq and warned that the violators of al Qaeda’s laws should be punished. “Everybody can make a mistake, but the best of them are those who admit their mistakes,” bin Laden said. “Mistakes have been made during holy wars but mujahedeen have to correct their mistakes. … The mujahideen are the children of this nation … they do right things and wrong things. … Those who are accused of violations of God’s commandments should face trial.”

A still of Osama bin Laden for As Sahab, al Qaeda’s media wing. Click to view.

While it is unclear what “mistakes” he is referring to, it is likely he is addressing the deterioration of al Qaeda’s standing in the Sunni insurgency due to the leadership’s violent response to the slightest affronts to al Qaeda and its Islamic State of Iraq.

He directly addresses the defections of Sunni insurgents such as the 1920s Revolution Brigades, the Mujahedeen Army, and elements of the Islamic Army of Iraq and other insurgent groups. He implored “scholars, jihadist and tribal leaders to work for reconciliation between fighting groups.” Several insurgent groups have attacked al Qaeda in Iraq for murder, intimidation, wanton violence, and the desecration of corpses. He implored these groups to uphold the “tradition of resisting” foreign armies.

He also addresses both the tribal “Awakening” movements, which have spread into former al Qaeda strongholds and have driven al Qaeda from power. Bin Laden warns that the ideology of jihad outweighs any feelings of nationalism or tribal affiliations.

“I advise myself, Muslims in general and brothers in al Qaeda everywhere to avoid extremism among men and groups [note, in this context, the extremism he refers to is adhering to nationalist and tribal loyalties]. … The interest of the Islamic nation surpasses that of a group … the interest of the (Islamic) nation is more important than that of a state.”

The direct involvement of Osama bin Laden in the leadership issues with al Qaeda in Iraq speaks volumes on the problems the terror group is facing in Iraq. Violence is down 70 percent since June and al Qaeda is being chased from its stronghold. Over the past several days a clash between the Islamic Army of Iraq and al Qaeda near Baghdad resulted in 60 dead. Al Qaeda’s much touted Ramadan campaign resulted in the death of the leader of the Anbar Awakening, killed dozens of Sunni and Shia leaders in Diyala, and missed its targets in Salahadin. But the attacks failed to break the movement, and even served to strengthen the will of the leadership and followers.

Excerpts from Osama bin Laden’s speech were compiled from the following sources:

Associated Press: Report: Usama bin Laden Calls for Iraqi Insurgents to Unite

Associated Press: Bin Laden urges Iraq rebel unity, admits wrongs

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Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • Neo says:

    He’s too late.

  • Turner says:

    Osama might as well be asking a shark to dance with a pig. It is not just because he has spent too many years hiding behind a ski-mask and going to market hiding under a burkha, that these problems have come to fore. The things he asks for are not in the principles of jihad. Yes some of the words are there but the spiritual structure required to hold such a thing together is not. Read the Koran and judge for yourself.

  • Fight4TheRight says:

    Forgive my skepticism, but was there any references in this tape to exact current events? Was there anything definitive in the audio that would confirm this tape was made within the last month or so?
    I could be wrong but in the last audio tapes supposedly from bin laden, has there not been anything that can identify a time period of the making of the tape?
    Bill, your piece does seem to point to current events there but I don’t know. I’m just not convinced this guy isn’t dead and gone.

  • Turner says:

    Fight4TheRight (above) asked is there if it’s really a current tape: Yes. The Rueters story that Bill links to notes a mention of the summer’s events in Diyala.
    The part that I had to chuckle at was Osama’s quote: “Those who are accused of violations of God’s commandments should face trial..” Yeah, buddy that’s what you need more Sharia courts and trials. Go for it.
    I should probably be more respectful but I couldn’t help but notice the gun in his tent either. Did anybody check out the magazine on that thing? That thing is all bullets and no barrel. It’s like a spray can for lead. Clearly, you couldn’t aim it worth a crap with that stubby little barrel. It’s like, if they ever find him, he’s planning to scream, spray bullets and run. If you get into guns it’s just funny because, before he went into hiding from George Bush, you’d always see him posing like a great Arab leader with an AK-47 or a looking down the sites of a rifle, but here in the tent, his personal sidearm is this little spray gun, you’d use while running away, that you wouldn’t even try to aim.
    Does that seem funny to anybody else or is it just me? Ok maybe it’s just me. Think I’ll get some sleep.
    As always, great blog Bill.

  • Facing Defeat in Iraq…

    …Bin Laden Issues an Apology and an Appeal

  • Neo says:

    I don’t fault Bin Laden’s choice of weapon. Take into consideration. Even in 98 he was spending a good amount moving from place to place, part of that time up in the hills living in caves. He doesn’t need a battle weapon. He has other people for that. All he needs is a personal weapon he can pop someone with if they try to get to him. Something he can tuck away or have ready at his side that isn’t obtrusive.
    The guy is no dummy in that respect.

  • joe says:

    This was definetly a huge speech for Usama, things much be critical for him to come out and criticize his people in public on Al Jazeera. Bin Laden might not be the best leader tactically with almost getting his movement wiped out in Tora Bora among other things but strategically I would argue he is brilliant in the sense that he knows his enemies and he also knows his own movements flaws extremly well. He realizes that their biggest enemy is themselves and their takfiri extremism. Im sure the disaster that was the GIA is fresh in his mind and hes trying to prevent the same catastrophic collapse in Iraq. Hopefully hes too late. We might actually see I think Al Qaeda split in Iraq much as the Gia did with the GSPC being formed. As a compliment to Bills excellent reporting on this site Walid Phares hits the nail on the head over at the CT Blog about this tape.
    Also a little theory of mine is that this recent burst of statements by Bin Laden is him putting Zawahiri back in his place. Remember Al Masri is Zawahiris boy from the Egyptian Islamic Jihad that was supposed to settle things down after Zarqawis demise but instead he managed to out Zarqawi even Zarqawi! Bin Laden cant be happy about this. Remember as smart as Zawahiri is hes incredibly arrogant and divisive and made a terrible leader. This is why I completly disagree with people who say Bin Laden isnt important, his leadership is what keeps his multi ethnic movement of fanatics relativly working together. Thats why killing him is so crucial, without him it is likely the movement would turn its knifes on each other.

  • Turner says:

    I think you’ve touched on some essential points. The “movement” will be there, in some form, with or without Bin Laden. There will probably long be outcasts, kidnappers and pirates who will try and fashion unity out of Mohammed’s words that came from his war-fighting periods. Everynow and then we’ll just have to put them back in the bottle.
    But the question of establishing some kind of spiritual foundation that would maintain unity is a good one. How can you take an inherently destructive, combative group of people, who’s spiritual gift of “sight” is seeing the bad in everything around them, particularly power structures … and turn them into an unified group of people that respects a power structure? The “foundation” has no spiritual foundation.
    How ironic it must be for Iraqis to hear the same Al Quaida that destroyed their country by inciting them to sadistically kill each other over various religious differences, now asking them to stay together by focusing on their common bond of being a muslim. To which type of muslim does he refer? The ones who go to mosque Friday AND Sunday? The ones who take money from him? If his “foundation” is now that ALL muslims are brothers, what was happening 12 months ago? What ski-mask was he hiding behind then?
    His other message, is almost a Christian one: “Everybody can make a mistake, but the best of them are those who admit their mistakes…” In the same breath, however, he’s saying those who made mistakes should be dragged through a sharia court. Yeah.. I’m signing up for that!
    Some of Bin Laden’s mesmerizing or unifying effect, is the strange calm with which he utters such oddly violent things. His soft, almost girl-like voice distracts the mind from thinking through the chaos he’s trying to sell. In his desparation he has found the courage to come out from a long period of hiding, but it seems a little late. The soft voice from a desert tent is no longer as attractive as it was, because those who have lived under the rule of his minions have found it to be bitter, cruel and animalistic.
    Joe, there may be something to your point about competition with Zawahiri. While Zawahiri may have posed as an advisor and friend to the outside world, and maybe even to Bin Laden, you never see their communiques working together. Zawahiri, no doubt, was encouraging him to stay hidden behind the ski-mask and burkha while Zahwahiri tried to take over the show.
    Zawahiri has also written of some lingering bitterness over the loss of his wife under US bombing attack and he has to be blaming Bin Laden’s confusion at Tora Bora (should we stay, should we go? etc.) for some of that. The great, soft-spoken leader, was only soft-spoken, while the US ran over him like a sandstorm and cast his minions to the wind. How different from the success the real mujahadeen had against the Russians ten years before.
    Interesting times.

  • Neocon News says:

    Another bin Laden tape

    Drudge is reporting that a new Osama bin Laden tape is set to air on Al Jazeera.
    DUBAI (Reuters) – Osama bin Laden called on insurgent groups in Iraq to unify their ranks, in an audio recording aired by Al Jazeera television on Monday.
    “The inte…

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 10/23/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  • Leslie says:


  • seanppj says:

    curse u osoma bin laden

  • vinayagamoorthy.r says:

    this is a one good good good news to all very good us army ………….. this starting ………..

  • aynalem haileyesus says:

    I’am very happy for osama bi-laden dead left of this world.but personal to one side of protest or opposse.b/c of this kind person to been arrested by handless.however,don’t trust bi-laden successer tolive in this world.

  • jimmex03 says:

    its a verry good news 4 every1 ing d world especially in america….they wouldn’t 4get 9/11, so i would rather say im happy that his gone now……..

  • billy bob says:



Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram