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Media: Message of Fear

After nearly three years, Osama bin Laden has resurfaced in American mainstream media. A video emerged on Tuesday featuring the terror leader’s still image and his voice in which he praises the 19 “champions” (suicide hijackers) who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Sky News / IntelCenter

After nearly three years, Osama bin Laden has resurfaced in American mainstream media. A video emerged on Tuesday featuring the terror leader’s still image and his voice in which he praises the 19 “champions” (suicide hijackers) who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

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Sky News / IntelCenter

AP Television news obtained the newest video from IntelCenter, a monitoring group in suburban Washington. The audiotape is the second message from al Qaeda released this week. On Saturday, bin Laden addressed the American people to convert to Islam in a video from al Qaeda’s media production team, al-Sahab, who intentionally sent it to television stations and eventually posted it on the Internet.

Al Qaeda’s leader is wearing the same clothing in both Saturday’s video and Tuesday’s still image. Speculation has been raised as to whether the audiotape was recently made, however, as the militant group has been known to use old footage and audio of bin Laden.

In Tuesday’s tape, bin Laden praises one of the American Airlines Flight 11 hijackers, al-Shehri, stating that kings and presidents “spoil and enjoy themselves” whereas “noble young men” like al-Shehri “destroy themselves for Allah’s Word to be Supreme.”

“And now it is our turn,” bin Laden says, encouraging supporters to join the “caravan” of martyrs.

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Militant groups often release videos to make a statement before carrying out an attack, and every year on Sept. 11, al Qaeda releases a video to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, rally up supporters and glorify its cause. Even though Sunday’s video is still being analyzed by U.S. intelligence agencies for clues as to bin Laden ‘s whereabouts and health condition, his appearance is a remainder that he is still free, underlying the administration’s failed attempts at capturing him.

Bush’s homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend stated on Sunday that bin Laden is “virtually impotent” but the National Intelligence Estimate disagrees, stating that al Qaeda is regrouping in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and intensifying its efforts.

Whether a threat or a taunt, bin Laden has learned to use technology and our extensive mainstream media outlets to directly intimidate his targets, his image and voice constantly reappearing to terrorize our perception of safety, a perception that hasn’t been stable in six years.