On the same day President Barack Obama delivered a speech to the Muslim world, a full version of a statement believed to be from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden appeared on Islamic Web sites.
Portions of the statement aired Wednesday on Al-Jazeera television and focused on the Pakistani military’s offensive against the Taliban movement in that nation’s Swat Valley. The statement criticized both Obama and the Pakistani leadership, citing the many casualties and widespread displacement in the offensive. The purported bin Laden statement posted Thursday made reference to the September 11, 2001, attacks on America by al Qaeda, a topic Obama addressed in Cairo, Egypt, the same day. The president’s wide-ranging speech was designed to mend fences between the United States and the Muslim world. The apparent bin Laden statement said the al Qaeda militants who launched the strike were “serving the oppressed by punishing the tyrants in America.” “True, the free men who carried out the events of 9/11 didn’t live the bitterness of subjection and expulsion from their lands and homes, and they were not sheltered in the tents and eat the leftover food,” the statement said. “But these 19 men heard of the injustice that was taking place against their brethren in Palestine because of the American weapons used by the Zionist hands, and this is why they left their schools and universities waiting for that first opportunity to strike back.” See a timeline of bin Laden messages »
Obama reaches out to Muslims in speech
Purported bin Laden tape slams U.S. role in Pakistan
In his speech, Obama talked about the need to pursue al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, a conflict he described as a “war of necessity” and not “choice.” “I’m aware that there’s still some who would question or even justify the events of 9/11. But let us be clear: Al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day. The victims were innocent men, women and children from America and many other nations who had done nothing to harm anybody. “And yet al Qaeda chose to ruthlessly murder these people, claimed credit for the attack and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale. They have affiliates in many countries and are trying to expand their reach. These are not opinions to be debated; these are facts to be dealt with.”
Obama said such extremists “have killed in many countries” and “have killed people of different faiths — but more than any other, they have killed Muslims.” “Their actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings, the progress of nations and with Islam.”