2,298. 8/17/2001

In an August 17, 2001, letter to New York Times reporter John Burns, journalist Peter Bergen described the details of a recently released bin Laden tape: “Clearly, al-Qaeda was and is planning something. No one has thought to put the videotape in the context of al-Qaeda’s modus operandi which is to subtly indicate a plot is in the works before it takes place. …On the tape, bin Laden and his advisers make impassioned speeches about Muslims being attacked in Chechnya, Kashmir, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Indonesia, and Egypt. …For bin Laden, however, the greatest insult to Muslims is the continued presence of Americans in the holy land of Arabia. Bin Laden says: ‘These Americans brought women and Jewish women who can go anywhere in our holy land’ adding ‘the Arab rulers worship the God of the White House.’ …Bin Laden says that Muslims must seek revenge for these insults: ‘If you don’t fight you will be punished by God.’ …The tape then shows hundreds of bin Laden’s masked followers training…holding up black flags and chanting…’fight evil.’ Bin Laden’s fighters shoot off anti-aircraft guns and RPGs, hold up their Korans and their…[AK-47s], run across obstacle courses, dive into pools of water, blow up buildings and shoot at images of President [Bill] Clinton. …Chillingly, the tape also shows dozens of young boys, most of whom appear to be around ten, dressed in military camouflage uniforms, chanting for jihad… Towards the end of the tape, bin Laden implies more action against the United States: ‘The victory of Islam is coming.’ …according to those familiar with bin Laden’s organization… ‘these threats…are genuine, that bin Laden’s followers are making real preparations against more than one American target.’ ”

 – Peter Bergen, Holy War, Inc., Pages 26-28

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