On July 14, 2007, As Sahab, Al Qaeda's propaganda and Psywar wing, had put out a video of past clips of Osama bin Laden and others, in which they had glorified martyrdom in the cause of Islam. I had referred to this in my article, Show Them The Strength
In that article, I had stated as follows:
"The recent video of Al Qaeda's propaganda wing carrying excerpts from past messages of Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda fighters glorifying the Islamic concept of martyrdom has been disseminated in pursuance of this new tactics. "Arise wherever you are and martyr
yourself"--that is the hidden message it has sought to convey. The latest video's central message is: "‘By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I would love to attack and be martyred, then attack again and be martyred, then attack again and be martyred.’"
On the eve of the sixth anniversary of its 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homeland, As Sahab has alerted Al Qaeda's followers to look out for the release of another video of Osama bin Laden. Its announcement says: "Soon, with the permission of God, a new visual tape, the Sheikh, the Lion, Osama bin Laden. May God protect him." Web sites identified with Al Qaeda have been talking of a "special gift" on the anniversary of the 9/11 strikes.
The announcement of the coming video message from him carries a photo of his in which the grey hair in his beard have disappeared, indicating either that he has dyed his beard if he is still alive or that his picture has been touched up by As Sahab in its studio.
What do the pro-Al Qaeda web sites mean by "a special gift"--another terrorist strike coinciding with the anniversary of 9/11, or a peace offer subject to certain conditions as he had made after the Madrid blasts of March,2004 or just another video of bin Laden to reassure his followers that he is alive and kicking or an announcement of his martyrdom, which Muslims consider a gift of God?
Let us wait and see.
B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.