Return to Transcripts main page

American Morning

New Osama Bin Laden Audio Tape Surfaces; Going the Extra Mile

Aired April 24, 2006 - 09:32   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: There's another Osama bin Laden audio tape out. It's now been three months since the last one came out, and we detect a slightly different tone this time. We'll try to read some tea leaves here with someone who knows how to do just that. CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen who joins us now from Washington, the man who once interviewed bin Laden several years ago.
Peter, good to have you with us this morning.


M. O'BRIEN: We want to play three excerpts from the tape. I want to begin with this one, and what I want people to listen to here is how there's no differentiation made between the Western public and the governments of the West. Let's listen.


OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Any war is the joint responsibility of the people and the government. While war continues, people renew their allegiance to their rulers and politicians, and continue to send their sons to our country to fight us. They continue their financial and moral support while our countries are burned, our homes are bombed and our people are killed.


M. O'BRIEN: In the past, it has seemed to me he has focused more on the leadership of the West. In this case he seems to be grouping the entire West and the citizenry as having some responsibility. Is that significant?

BERGEN: Well, it could be. In the last -- as you said, Miles, in the last year and a half, bin Laden when he has made statements he's sort of appealed to the American people and made a distinction between the American people and the American government. In this tape, he says the American people and the American government are equally responsible for American foreign policies, which hearkens back to justifications that he used for the 9/11 attacks. So that's kind of worrisome in the sense that he seems be giving justification for renewed attacks on American civilians.

Now do they have the capacity for those attacks? I'm very skeptical, but has me he issued sort of a religious order allowing attacks on American civilians? This audiotape, certainly for his followers, would fall into that category. M. O'BRIEN: And I guess, that could be, as you say, a lot of depends what they could implement. That could be somewhat ominous. Let's talk about -- you talked about justifications. One of the things that Osama bin Laden has mentioned repeatedly is the plight of the Palestinian people. And in this case, he makes a direct -- well, I guess he's offering some kind of olive branch, if you will, to Hamas, a group that has not expressed much desire to align themselves with Osama bin Laden. Let's listen for just a moment to what he had to say.


OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Their opposition to the Hamas victory proves that this is a crusade against Islam. This shows what Shaikh Ayman Al Zawahiri warned about before, not to enter into an infidel's council. The sanctions imposed by the West on the Hamas government prove more that there is a Zionist crusader war on Islam.


M. O'BRIEN: So what he's specifically talking about here is how the U.S. has withdrawn support for the Palestinians now that Hamas, a group linked to terror, is in power and the Palestinian Authority. What's he trying to prove there?

BERGEN: Well, you know, bin Laden has been long sympathetic to Hamas, even if Hamas doesn't return the favor to him. Bin Laden was always opposed to Yasser Arafat, the head of the PLO, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, because it was a secular group. Bin Laden's former mentor, a Palestinian cleric by the name of Abdullad Rezzam (ph) was someone who was actually fairly instrumental in the founding of Hamas. So bin Laden has always admired Hamas. He's trying to sort of extend a, to use the word, I guess olive branch to them. Hamas has publicly said they don't want anything to do with al Qaeda, and of course that makes sense. Why would they want to complicate their already difficult relationship with the outside world by any form of alliance with al Qaeda. After all, they have return addresses in a way that al Qaeda leaders do not.

M. O'BRIEN: Interesting. All right, let's talk about one other thing which came up on the radar in this tape, and that is Sudan. It's interesting how he picks this location, and why now?

Let's listen for just a moment, and I want to ask you.


OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): I call on the Mujahadeen and their supporters, especially in Sudan and the Arabian peninsula, to prepare for a long war against the crusaders and plunderers in western Sudan. Our goal is not defending the Khartoum government, but to defend Islam, its land and its people.


M. O'BRIEN: And just to remind people, Sudan is a former base of operations for Osama bin Laden before he went to Afghanistan. Why is he -- do you think, why is he focusing on Sudan at this moment?

BERGEN: I don't really know. Al Qaeda focused on Somalia in the early '90s when the United States introduced troops into Somalia as a result of the starting -- the situation of starving Somalis, and al Qaeda saw that as an attempt to kind of increase Western influence in the Islamic world. And he well see the peace agreement that's being brokered between the south and the north in Sudan, which the West has had some involvement in, as an attempt to extend Western influence into southern Sudan, which is largely Christian, and you may see attempts by the West to intervene in Darfur, where there's something akin to a genocide is going on, also an attempt by the West to extend itself more into the Muslim world. So yes, bin Laden is very paranoid, and I think that's why he's talking about Sudan right now.

M. O'BRIEN: Just a quick bottom line thought here. Is this about bluster and propaganda, or do you suppose there's actual operations which go along with this rhetoric?

BERGEN: Well, I mean, of course they're planning something, but I think their capacity has been very damaged. But the rhetoric is important, because the rhetoric not only is a call to arms for members of al Qaeda, sometimes their specific instructions. We didn't see it in this tape, but we've had other tapes from bin Laden where he's actually called for specific kind of attacks. For instance, on members of the coalition in Iraq, and we saw an attack in Spain and London as a result of part of those calls. So we have to listen to his rhetoric pretty carefully, even if sometimes it's just, you know, blowing smoke.

M. O'BRIEN: Peter Bergen in Washington, never blows smoke for us. Thank you very much for your time. And stay tuned to CNN for the most reliable news about your security/



S. O'BRIEN: To some people, commuting means going the extra mile, and it means, they think at least, it's worth it. They're moving out further and further.

AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken has a profile for us.


BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATL. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every morning at 5:00, five days a week, Ron and Maxine Thomas get on the train, crowded with other bleary-eyed commuters, for the hour-and-a half ride into Washington D.C. Every day after work they take the train 66 miles back, not to the suburbs of Virginia or Maryland, but on to the next state, West Virginia, to a 5,300 square foot house these government workers couldn't possibly afford closer in.

RON THOMAS, GOVERNMENT WORKER: There were plenty of houses we could get, but not this house. You could get a three-bedroom with maybe 2,000 square feet, and it was still very expensive. FRANKEN: They're part of a significant outward migration. Statistics show that more than 40 percent of the nation's fastest- growing families are the suburbs of suburbs.

MAXINE THOMAS, COMMUTER: People leave their doors unlocked. So it's safer, I think, than being closer in.

FRANKEN: They moved with their kids to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, where abolitionist John Brown fought and died.

(on camera): There's so much history here. Behind me, Civil War battlefields. Just around the corner, General Stonewall Jackson had his headquarters. That was then. This is now.

(voice-over): Townhouses and mcmansions are sprouting up in places of the trees that were cleared for them. Within a few yards of the Appalachian Trail, there are driveways. The once sparse population here in Jefferson County is up by 20,000 in the last decade; 15,000 more are expected in the next.

But the mayor of Harper's Ferry points out, they defeat their purpose.

MYR. JIM ADDY, HARPER'S FERRY: Increased demand for housing causes cause prices to rise, and also the demand for better services.

FRANKEN: That means higher taxes for a lifestyle that's physically taxing, even for those who don't have to drive.

M. THOMAS: You have to stay up and run errands and do sports and whatever they need to do, so you're in bed by 10:30, 11:00, and then you're up at 3:00. It's exhausting.

FRANKEN: They used to call this a whistle stop. Now it's an excerpt, and this is not the end of the line. There are more even further out.

Bob Franken, CNN, Harper's Ferry, West Virginia.



M. O'BRIEN: "CNN LIVE TODAY" is coming up next. Daryn Kagan here with a preview.

Hello, Daryn.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Miles. Good to see you.

It is a battle of New Orleans, the incumbent versus a Louisiana legacy. Two men want to lead this shattered city out of the ruins. My guest will look ahead to the mayoral runoff in New Orleans. And an update on our friend Gasper the beluga whale. Actually you could say a neighbor. He lives across the street from us here at CNN. He has a bad cough and a nasty skin rash. A medical checkup when I talk to his vets from the Georgia aquarium. In this case, Miles, it's a good thing when you gain 200 pounds.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I've been looking for an excuse to put on a couple hundred.

Thank you very much, Daryn.

Ahead in "A.M. Pop," the actor Willem Dafoe. This is an interesting role for him. You know, usually more dramatic roles. He's trying a little comedy this time. The movie is "American Dreamz." We'll find out what attracted him to this part of a presidential adviser. That's That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



M. O'BRIEN: In this morning's "A.M. Pop," one of Hollywood's great dramatic actors flexing some serious acting muscle in a new comedy, a satire. "American Dreamz" it's called -- that's dreams with a Z. He is the presidential chief of staff in this movie.

Willem Dafoe books his boss, played by Dennis Quaid, as a guest judge on an "American Idol"-like TV show in an effort to boost his sagging approval rating. Here's a clip.


WILLEM DAFOE, ACTOR, "AMERICAN DREAMZ": Mr. Pete, are you ready to meet the press?

DENNIS QUAID, ACTOR: Not right now.

DAFOE: Mr. Pete, we discussed this. I mean, it was your idea to meet the press after the big win, herald in a new era of openness, what with our overwhelming mandate?

QUAID: Yes, I know. It's just that there is a lot of stuff in here. There's a lot of interesting things.

DAFOE: There is a lot of stuff. They have to fill the pages with something, but I think interesting is stretching it.

QUAID: Well, for instance, did you know that there are two kinds of Iraqistanis? I mean, actually, three kinds of Iraqis.

DAFOE: Do you mean Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds?

QUAID: You knew about this?


M. O'BRIEN: Willem Dafoe, joining us now. Good to see you.

DAFOE: Good to see you.

M. O'BRIEN: Not too hard to pick up who you're having a little riff on here.

DAFOE: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: There's Karl Rove or Dick Cheney or some combination thereof. When you saw that role, did you feel like you wanted to do it right away?

DAFOE: I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure I was the right guy to do it, and I really needed to talk to the director first and ask him why he wanted me to do it, because I'm not a typical choice for that. I thought the script was very funny and I knew the actors that were attached all -- were all cast very well. And I thought it was interesting making a movie like this at this time. So I was interested in it, but I wasn't sure I was right about -- right for it.

M. O'BRIEN: Now, aside from, you know, shaving your head and going through all the make-up that made you what you were there, what kind of research did you do for a role like this?

DAFOE: I hate to say, very little.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

DAFOE: I mean, I read the papers.

M. O'BRIEN: There's interesting stuff in there.

DAFOE: There's interesting stuff in there.

M. O'BRIEN: Now, this script, it talks about a president who's got some bad numbers, an unpopular war in Iraq. It is -- they make fun of the possibility they might use earpieces in public statements. A lot of these things hit the mark on some of the Democratic accusations against the current actual occupant of the White House. What -- did you feel like it was satire that was maybe too close to reality?

DAFOE: I don't know. That remains to be seen, because there's a real -- I won't know that until I -- we see how people respond to it. But all I can say is Paul, the director -- and the writers -- is very thoughtful in his portrait of everybody. So his -- the ironies and the kind of revealing the split between public and private behavior is really shared with everyone. It's not a -- it's a kind of loving spoof, I'd say.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, and most everybody is in the crossfire on this one.

DAFOE: And above all, it's a comedy.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. And Willem Dafoe, thank you for being with us this morning.

DAFOE: Thanks.

(END VIDEOTAPE) S. O'BRIEN: Coming up a little bit on AMERICAN MORNING, do you think your boss does a lousy job? Do you dare complain if the CEO is Osama bin Laden and the business is terror? Ahead this morning, an unorthodox way to celebrate a high holy day. One church attacking it as well. Those stories just ahead, right after this.


S. O'BRIEN: That's it. We're out of time on this Monday morning. Daryn Kagan's at the CNN Center. She's going to take you through the next few hours on CNN LIVE TODAY.