In a videotaped message issued to mark the ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden praised Christian extremists for inflaming the Islamic world with their anti-Muslim actions and rhetoric.
He spoke particularly of plans to build an Islamic-based cultural center in New York City and of a Florida preacher threatening to burn the Koran.
The tape, apparently recorded on Saturday, was aired Monday on the Arabic-language network Al Jazeera and was confirmed as authentic by the FBI.
“Lately, with your President Obama reaching out to the Muslim world and troops leaving Iraq it was becoming more difficult to recruit and convince our Muslim brothers and sisters that America is out to destroy Islam, but then you guys lose your marbles and all I have to do is roll the videotape. I don’t even have to make things up or give a fiery speech,” bin Laden said on the videotape. “Every time Americans do something stupid like the Abu Ghraib scandal, the reaction against a New York Islamic center or this man in Florida threatening to burn the Koran it makes my job so much easier. We’re going to exceed our recruitment goals for the month thanks to you guys.”
The Park 51 project would build an Islamic cultural center similar to a YMCA or a Jewish Community Center. It would have athletic facilities, meeting rooms and be open to people of all faiths for a variety of uses—including prayer rooms available to all religions. Imam Feisal Rauf, the man behind the center, has worked with the Bush and Obama administrations on reaching out to Muslims around the world and speaking against the extremism expressed by bin Laden.
Details of the project were released in December, 2009 and Rauf’s wife, Daisy Khan, was praised on Fox News for the center being a stand against Islamic extremism. With an election coming up in November, Fox and other Republicans have seized on the “ground zero Mosque” as a way to rally their base because it would sit two blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center.
“I tell you, the guy behind that Islamic center, I won’t even speak the name of this infidel. He has Christians and Jews working with him and he constantly speaks out against me. He worked with the FBI on counterterrorism and with the Bush administration yet you attack him because he claims to be a Muslim, I really appreciate that,” bin Laden said. “Mark my words, al Qaeda will defeat you and we will defeat you because you make it so easy for us to prove to the world that you’re fighting against Islam, that for all your talk of freedom you would deny it to someone else based on their religion.”
Bin Laden also praised the actions of Florida preacher Terry Jones for threatening to burn the Koran, but expressed dismay at Jones opting to not go through with the plan. Jones decided to halt his “protest” after Gen. David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said it would put the lives of U.S. soldiers at greater risk overseas.
“We got a bit of mileage out of that guy in Florida, but then he chickened out at the last minute. If you could find a few more wing nuts to follow his lead I guarantee you I’ll find enough recruits from across the Islamic world to make 9/11 look like a day in the park. So please keep up the anti-Islamic extremism going in your country, it’s the best thing I’ve got going for me,” bin Laden said. “Oh and P.S., death to America.”