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Bin Laden chides Obama on Afghan war

Osama bin Laden said the president was powerless. Osama bin Laden said the president was powerless.
Associated Press / September 15, 2009

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CAIRO - Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden described President Obama as powerless to stop the war in Afghanistan and threatened to step up guerrilla warfare there in a new audiotape released to mark the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

In the 11-minute tape addressed to the American people, bin Laden said Obama is only following the warlike policies of his predecessor George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and he urged Americans to “liberate’’ themselves from the influence of “neoconservatives and the Israeli lobby.’’

The tape was posted on Islamic militant websites two days after the eighth anniversary of the attacks. Bin Laden usually addresses Americans in a message timed around the date of the attacks, which sparked the US-led war in Afghanistan the same year, and then in Iraq two years later.

Bin Laden, who is believed to be hiding in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, said Americans had failed to understand that Al Qaeda carried out the attacks in retaliation for US support for Israel. If America reconsiders its alliance with the Jewish state, Al Qaeda will respond on “sound and just bases,’’ he said.

The Saudi construction magnate’s son-turned “holy warrior’’ and his deputies have frequently sought to wrap Al Qaeda in the Palestinian cause, seeking to draw support in the Arab world, where the issue is one of the public’s top concerns.

Al Qaeda has also sought to depict Obama as no different from Bush, who was widely despised in the Arab world for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and his close support of Israel. Obama has won greater popularity in the region, giving a landmark speech in Cairo in June, moving to withdraw US troops from Iraq, and taking a somewhat harder stance on Israel in the peace process.