Coming to a television screen near you: Blackbeard bin Laden

BFP Magazine

Mainstream Media, Al Qaeda

Coming to a television screen near you: Blackbeard bin Laden

By Judi McLeod

Friday, September 7, 2007

Osama Bin LadenWhat do Osama bin Laden and
Paris Hilton have in common?

Both show genius in hijacking the attention of the mainstream media.

Like pinstripe-suited advance men sending out a press release signaling a politician's major policy statement, "al Qaida's media arm" is on the job. Coming down the pike is the imminent release of Osama bin Laden's latest video message to the West.

Bin Laden, who has not appeared in video footage since October 2004, is not only alive and kicking, he's beefed up his personal appearance.

To the West, bin Laden is the terror mastermind behind September 11, 2001. To al Qaida PR flaks, he's "the lion sheik Osama bin Laden".

With rock star treatment for their leader, al Qaida borrows from the Public Relations style of the country they hate most.

The Internet announcement of the coming video includes a still photo showing bin Laden addressing the camera--his trademark beard now inky black. In past videos, bin Laden's beard had definitely gone almost entirely gray, spiked only by dark streaks.

If anyone's noticed, the advance announcement of the video is as slick as anything that could be turned out by the wonders of New York type PR. All that's missing is which hair dye product the world's most elusive terrorist sponsors.

Even terrorists, it seems, want to look their best.

Didn't the late Saddam Hussein request hair dye, along with poetry books when he awaited trial in prison?

Depending on your take, it's been a long time--or not long enough--since the al Qaida leader stared out at the world from video footage. Not in fact since October 2004.

Why the dye job three years on?

According to Rita Katz, director of SITE Institute, a Washington-based group that monitors terror messages, it suits al Qaida to have their leader looking young and healthy.

The style of al Qaida's announcement is surely a little too slick for someone supposedly having to move from camp to camp by horseback.

Does al Qaida have high-speed Internet in every cave in which they hide their leader?

The announcement of the coming video and photo appeared in a banner advertisement on an Islamic militant Web site where al-Qaida's media arm, Al-Sahab, frequently posts messages.

If bin Laden does appear in new footage, it would be the first images of him since an Oct. 29, 2004 videotape, released just before the U.S. presidential elections. In that appearance three years ago, he said America could avoid another 9/11-style attack if it stopped threatening Muslims.

"Bin Laden went silent for a similar long stretch before—from Dec. 28, 2004 to Jan 19, 2006. That absence sparked widespread speculation that he was ill, wounded or possibly dead." (AP, Sept. 6, 2007).

With whereabouts unknown since 9/11, bin Laden is thought to be hiding in the tribal regions of western Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan.

In his video message of November 2005, bin Laden wanted the United States to convert to Islam, ditch its constitution, abolish banks, jail homosexuals and sign the Kyoto climate change treaty.

Of the latter, he lectured the U.S.A: "You have destroyed nature with your industrial waste and gases more than any other nation in history. Despite this, you refuse to sign the Kyoto agreement so that you can secure the profit of your greedy companies and industries."

Why would Kyoto be on his mind?

Pollution would be a major problem if you called a cave home.

The timing of bin Laden's 2004 appearance on video coincided with US presidential elections.

The next presidential elections are still more than a year away.

Perhaps al Qaida's timing this time is tied to a beleaguered General David Petraeus and his report to Congress. The report is being tabled with the Democrats backed up by thousands of anti-war activists, who will be demonstrating in Washington D.C. on Sept. 15.

Americans are the most polarized they've ever been over the war in Iraq.

Meanwhile, in six short years al Qaida has finessed the fine art of Public Relations.

Surely when the transcript from the latest video footage is available, someone should be asking, "Does any one recognize the style of the materials used in this footage?"

Canada Free Press founding editor Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on, Drudge Report,, Glenn Beck and The Rant. Judi can be reached at:

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