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Bin Laden Slams Pope and Threatens Europe

March 20, 2008 05:26 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
In a five-minute audio message, Osama bin Laden took aim at Pope Benedict XVI for his role in the “new Crusade" against Islam.

30-Second Summary

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In the message, posted on the Web site of Al-Sahab, the media wing of al-Qaida, Bin Laden references the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that were reprinted by Danish newspapers this February.

While Bin Laden criticizes the West for bombing villages and killing women and children, he focuses more on the cartoons, calling them “the greater and more serious tragedy,” in which the “Pope and the Vatican has played a large, lengthy role.” 

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, called the accusations “baseless,” arguing that the Pope has condemned the cartoons numerous times.

The intention behind the message is still unclear
. Some analysts say the clip indicates al-Qaida is plotting an attack on Europe. Others, like Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani general and security analyst, do not feel that bin Laden is able to organize an attack in his current state of isolation. Instead, says Masood, he is trying to enrage Muslims against the West.

In February, three men were arrested in Denmark for an alleged plot to kill Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist who created the original depiction of Muhammad that sparked the uproar in 2006. In a sign of solidarity, 11 Danish newspapers reprinted the cartoon.

Westergaard has been in hiding ever since 2006, when violence flared up after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published his cartoon depicting Muhammad with a bomb under his turban. Riots spread throughout the world, and Iran even displayed 200 Holocaust cartoons in a museum in reaction. The organizers of that exhibition argued that they were demonstrating that the West, like Islam, has its taboos.

Headline Links: Bin Laden’s message and the implications of the cartoons

Background: The 2006 protests and the February 2008 reprinting of the cartoons

Opinion & Analysis: Bin Laden's 'new' message and free speech

Related Link: Iran retaliates

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