CAIRO — In a recording made shortly before his death, Osama bin Laden praised the mass protests that have toppled and shaken longtime rulers across the Arab world while trying to cast a role for Al Qaeda in the region’s future.
Bin Laden’s message, released on militant websites yesterday and addressed to “the Muslim nation,’’ represents an attempt by the terror leader to remain relevant following sweeping changes in which Al Qaeda and militant Islam have played almost no role.
“The winds of change will spread through the entire Islamic world, God willing,’’ bin Laden said in the 12-minute audio message. “The youth need to make necessary preparations and not act without consulting the experience of the honest ones and those who are far from half solutions and compromises with the oppressors.’’
Bin Laden said it was a religious obligation to form a council that would provide guidance for all Muslims on important issues — apparently a way for Al Qaeda to play a role in the protests’ future.
While not mentioning Al Qaeda by name, he advised people struggling against their governments to remember “those who advised early on the necessity of uprooting these oppressive regimes, for they have great trust among all Muslims’’ — a clear reference to the militant group.
President Obama, in his speech yesterday on American policy in the Arab world, called bin Laden’s death this month at the hands of Navy SEALs a huge blow to Al Qaeda, which he said was “losing its struggle for relevance.’’
“By the time we found bin Laden, Al Qaeda’s agenda had come to be seen by the vast majority of the region as a dead end, and the people of the Middle East and North Africa had taken their future into their own hands,’’ Obama said.