It’s irritating but understandable that CNN has not yet produced a transltion to English of the bin Laden videotape released today but al Jazeera ?? Don’t they all know Arabic ? Why do they have as little up on their site from bin Laden’s message as CNN ? How about a transcript ? ( Apparently these news organizations are adding paragraphs of reportage minute by minute so the links are evolving)

My understanding of initial reports is that this address was aimed primarily at an American audience due to the changes in bin Laden’s rhetorical style. This squares with the analysis of ” Anonymous” in Imperial Hubris regarding bin Laden’s desire to justify al Qaida’s actions with the jurisprudential context of his zany version of salafist extemism with a last and final warning before unleashing whatever he conceives to be al Qaida’s ” big one”. On the other hand, coming so speedily on the heels of the ” Assam the American ” tape, bin Laden may also be clearly spelling out ” the party line ” to his decentralized folowers. The messages are similar but not quite the same and disavows a particular interest in tilting the election toward Kerry ( or Bush).

Not being an Arabist I’m really curious on how Juan Cole, who has translated an analyzed several al Qaida and Zarqawri documents and Collounsbury who may possibly have heard the broadcast in the original Arabic, are going to weigh in on this tape. I may change my mind as more information becomes available.

Meanwhile the DEBKA File reports that Abu Musab al-Zaqawri has penned an entire ” encyclopedia of terrorism”. Assuming this is true – a large assumption -then either Zaqawri has a really secure base of operations or he’s possibly manic in the sense of psychological distrurbance; one would have his hands full enough running a terror insurgency against the U.S. military without becoming the Diderot of mass murder.

UPDATE: Juan Cole on bin Laden. Cole also notes the change in bin Laden’s rhetoric.

Now that I’ve read the transcript it seems to me that al Qaida’s leaders are deeply plugged in to the western media and bin Laden was, in part, reflecting back some of the more recent critiques by Leftist critics of the Bush administration. Sort of a Leftist-Islamist political feedback loop with the psychological need for validation that serial killers often exhibit during intense media scrutiny of their crimes thrown in for good measure.

UPDATE II. The Belmont Club sees the tape as Osama’s parley.