March 25, 2010 / 1:54 PM / 10 years ago

Instant View: Bin Laden threatens Americans with execution

DUBAI (Reuters) - Osama bin Laden threatened that al Qaeda would kill any Americans it takes prisoner if accused September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is put to death, according to an audiotape aired on al Jazeera on Thursday.

Below is reaction to the statement.

NEIL PARTRICK, MIDDLE EAST ANALYST

“Bin Laden is a master of propaganda. Addressing a seeming adjustment in Obama’s approach to trying al Qaeda suspects, when the U.S. president has promised a new dawn in relations with the Muslim world, will no doubt get a sympathetic hearing among Bin Laden’s audience. Likewise the al Qaeda leader’s emphasis on Palestine, albeit not a personal preoccupation, makes for good copy, especially when Obama appears to Muslim opinion to be powerless to engineer anything other than cosmetic concessions from Israel. Any notion that a civil trial that might not have led to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s execution would then somehow have been met with a moderation in bin Laden’s war strategy is obviously a delusion.”

OMAR ASHOUR, EXPERT ON ISLAMIST GROUPS, EXETER UNIVERSITY

“A lot of Arabs and Muslims frankly don’t want to hear about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. They associate him with an event that cost a lot of lives and cost them a lot of pain. A lot of them have suffered because of 9/11. Now bin Laden is trying to link him with the issue of Palestine, which is a popular issue for Muslims.

“Bin Laden’s threat is also a kind of message to his followers to say ‘anyone who can go out and kidnap or kill an American should do so’. He’s saying to the United States that it will be responsible for whatever happens to Mohammed.”

ABDELBARI ATWAN, EDITOR AL QUDS AL ARABI NEWSPAPER

“It’s the best time for bin Laden to attack Obama amid this controversy over the Israeli settlements. He is manipulating frustration among Arabs over the Israeli-Palestinian situation. He is seizing the opportunity to say to people that Obama is worse than Bush.

“Bin Laden is also expressing his fury about the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed case, because Mohammed is one of his closest friends and associates. The message sounds confident. It seems to me he is in a relatively safe place and he’s in close touch with his followers. It could be that he’s no longer in the remote place he once was in.”

U.S. COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL

“It’s the height of absurdity for anyone associated with al Qaeda to even suggest that now, at long last, they’re going to start treating captives badly. They may have forgotten Danny Pearl and all the others they’ve slaughtered, but we haven’t.”

INTELCENTER, U.S.-BASED TERRORISM MONITORING FIRM

“The statement appears to be authentic. Bin Laden’s specific threat serves as a valid indicator of an increased threat of kidnappings targeting Americans in the immediate period and following through the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial in the U.S.”

“The threat of kidnappings will increase further as the trial begins. Attempts to kidnap Americans would not be limited to core al Qaeda. The group’s regional arms such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb, which has been aggressively targeting Westerners for kidnapping in North Africa, may follow through on bin Laden’s threat.

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