EUROPE

Bin Laden video: threats against Europe are serious

Osama bin Laden released a new video Wednesday in which he threatened the European Union with a "reckoning" and reignited the Danish cartoon affair. One of our Observers, an al Qaeda specialist, explains why this message could see a new wave of terrorist action in Europe. Watch Bin Laden's message and read the comment from our Observer.

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Osama bin Laden released a new video Wednesday, in which he threatened the European Union with a "reckoning" and reignited the Danish cartoon affair. One of our Observers, an al Qaeda specialist, explains why this message could see a new wave of terrorist action in Europe.

"The threats against Europe are serious"

Atmane Tazaghart is a writer and journalist specialised in al Qaeda operations and especially, on Osama bin Laden. In 2004, he co-wrote the book Bin Laden, the Destruction Programme of the West with Roland Jacquard.

It's unusual for bin Laden to make such precise threats himself. Usually he makes more general speeches and leaves this type of warning to his number two, Ayman Al Zawahiri. To my knowledge, bin Laden hasn't released a message as violent as this since his speech on the US elections in 2004.

There was one phrase in particular that got my attention. It's written across the top of the screen throughout the speech. In big letters it says, "May Our Mothers Be Bereaved Of Us If We Fail To Help Our Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him)". This is a reference to the Danish cartoons and a clear call for terrorist actions.

This video is targeted particularly at European Muslims. Ever so often, bin Laden has to show that he's still alive, to revive tensions and galvanise his troops or potential supporters. He's using the cartoon affair, which was brought up again a few weeks ago in the Netherlands, to fuel the fire. Why's he attacking Europe? Because US President George Bush is coming to the end of his term and he's already heavily criticised in the US.

It's always as-Sahab that produces and releases these recordings. It's a media imprint that was set up in Peshawar, Pakistan, before September 11, 2001. It was used as a media platform for al Qaeda and even arranged for foreign journalists to interview bin Laden. Now it operates as a clandestine society and we don't know where it's based. Once the video has been made, they post it on discussion forums whose addresses change all the time.