According to ABC News, Osama has begun singing a different tune in his latest missive to the ummah. Bin Laden's video and audio messages usually contain plenty of triumphalism for Islamists, but in a new message to his fellow terrorists, he sounds a little more desperate about their prospects:
Showing apparent signs of concern over events in Iraq, al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden urged insurgents to "unite your lines into one" in an audiotape played on al Jazeera Monday.
"Don't be arrogant," bin Laden warned. "Your enemies are trying to break up the jihadi groups. I urge you all to work in one united group."
People familiar with bin Laden's voice say the tape appeared to be authentic, although there was no reference to any event that would indicate when it was recorded.
Bin Laden's message comes at a time when U.S. strategy to split Iraqi insurgent groups from al Qaeda units appears to be working.
The US strategy has certainly helped in splitting insurgents from al-Qaeda, but we haven't been the only point of pressure for this fracture. AQ has to take quite a bit of the credit for themselves. Thanks to the brutality of AQI under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his pseudosuccessor "al-Masri", the radical Islamists have alienated the natives who back the nationalist insurgencies.
Osama's allies drove the Iraqis into the arms of the Americans. No one doubts that the relationship is more convenience than commitment at the moment, but it gives us the opportunity to defuse the anger and humiliation of occupation that drove some of these insurgents to oppose us, especially in western Iraq. As ABC's Richard Clarke says, the divisions between AQI and native Iraqis show that our aggressive tactics have worked against al-Qaeda and has damaged their credibility there, severely enough to prompt this call for unity among bloodthirsty lunatics.
Reuters also notes the desperate tone used by Osama bin Laden. In another part of the tape, he tried to remind Iraqi insurgents of the British occupation after the Treaty of Sevres and the Iraqi resistance to it. The key difference is that the Iraqis have now realized that Osama and AQ have taken the colonial role of the British Empire of the 1920s, while the Americans want Iraqi nationalism instead. Osama wants a regional caliphate under his dominion, and the Iraqis want to run their own country -- and have finally realized that that is what the Americans want as well.
Osama has lost the thread in Iraq, and thanks to the lunacy of his followers, will find it very difficult to build his credibility there again. He's losing, and he knows it, and this tape confirms that he realizes what that means for the overall war on terror.