Bin Laden the dead father of the Arab spring
A recording allegedly made by former Al-Qaeda number one Osama Bin Laden shortly before he died has been released. The 12 minute long message sees him praise the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and speak of a "rare historic opportunity" for Muslims to rise up against the "tyrants". He repeatedly refers to and encourages the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt but does not mention Bahrain, Syria, Libya or even Yemen.
"I think that the winds of change will blow over the entire Muslim world, with permission from Allah," he says.
"There is a serious crossroads before you, and a great and rare historic opportunity to rise up with the Ummah (Muslim community) and to free yourselves from servitude to the desires of the rulers, man-made law, and Western dominance," "So, what are you waiting for? Save yourselves and your children, because the opportunity is here," he adds.
Turning his attention to Al-Qaeda members and supporters, he called for them to "set up an operations room that follows up events and works in parallel ... to save the people that are struggling to bring down their tyrants"
So what does the release of the last Bin Laden recording mean or symbolise? Is it a desperate Al-Qaeda attempt to try and jump into the "let's fight together for a better and fairer Muslim world" bandwagon? After all, if Bin Laden became popular so quickly it was due to his ability to transform from the son of a Saudi billionaire into a pauper prince of the masses. By joining the Taliban fighter in the 80's and living in boot camps and mountains, he stood in sharp contrast to the many politicians in the region whose main goal was to remain in power to amass more money and more power.
Bin Laden took another path and thought that his power would come from the people. It did in part, but as Al Qaeda became bigger it also turned into what many Arab people saw as an oppressive institution, just another oppressor amongst others. Several bomb attacks or other terrorist enterprises in the Muslim world also greatly contributed to the decline of pro or even sympathising Al-Qaeda feelings in the Muslim world.
Al-Qaeda was certainly caught off guard by the Arab Spring and did not manage to claim any imput in the revolutions. While Al-Qaeda wants to see as a result new governments based on their interpretation of Islamic law, it seems likely that the statements made by Bin Laden will be seen by the many people who have lost relatives in the uprisings or were wounded themselves as a bad joke.
Col Gaddafi at war against Al Qaeda
Another surprising claim was recently made by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime as Al Jazeera quoted Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister saying, "what you can tell from the way they [captured rebels] dress - the beard, the turban, the trousers - for us [the Libyan Government] it's clear, they are really part of al-Qaeda. Some of them I'm sure are not al-Qaeda members. But the core of these attacks are the al-Qaeda elements."
Also in a letter wrote to US president Barak Obama Gaddafi supposedly wrote: "We are fighting nothing other than al-Qaeda in what they call the Islamic Maghreb. It's an armed group that is fighting from Libya to Mauritania and through Algeria and Mali.... If you had found them taking over American cities by the force of arms, tell me what you would do?"
So once again Gaddafi here presents himself as the victim of the most notorious terrorist group. The Lion of Africa, as he affectionately calls himself is then on the warpath against terrorism. According to Gaddafi's alleged statements, by fighting the rebels he was following the line of conduct dictated by the international community. He was also acting in line with the Arab league's call for a "united position against terrorism" and "increased efforts to combat terror". Whether or not Gaddafi seriously thinks that he is actually currently fighting Al Qaeda in Libya (after all we do not know much about the rebel fighters), his appeal come as a surprise after an Italian newspaper quoted him saying just before the start of the coalition mission that in case of a foreign intervention "We will ally ourselves with al-Qaida and declare a holy war,"