Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) "Your security is not in the hands of Kerry, Bush or al-Qaida. Your security is in your own hands. Any state that does not mess with our security has naturally guaranteed its own security", Osama Bin Laden said in a new videotape broadcast by Arab network al-Jazeera. With tones evoking Spain's controversial March election, the Islamist leader entered the US electoral fray renewing his threats against the West.
In a direct appeal to the American people, Bin Laden said: "my talk to you is about the best way to avoid another Manhattan, about the war, its reasons and its consequences. I tell you: Security is an important element of human life, and free people do not give up their security. Unlike what Bush says that we hate freedom, let him tell us why we didn't attack Sweden, for example."
In the video, Bin Laden appeared rested and in relatively good health. He looked straight into the camera and spoke in a poised manner more like a head of state delivering a speech to the nation than a rebel on the run.
In the last few months, the gruesome series of decapitations, abductions and other assorted crimes committed by al-Qaeda-affiliated groups have turned off large segments of Arab public opinion.
Bin Laden's speech is an attempt to regain the lost ground and for this reason rails again against Israel pushing the beginning of the struggle to the Jewish state's 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
In the tape, Bin Laden claims responsibility for the slaughter of September 11 for the first time.
"While I was looking at these destroyed towers in Lebanon, it sparked in my mind that the tyrant should be punished with the same and that we should destroy towers in America, so that it tastes what we taste and would be deterred from killing our children and women."
Bin Laden's latest threat comes on the eve of US elections and it is hard to know how it will affect voters already highly sensitive to security issues.
Interestingly, al-Jazeera's website asked its viewers to vote for their favourite candidate in the US presidential race, Bush or Kerry. Over 60 per cent of the 38,000 respondents saw no difference between the two. Only 27.2 per cent preferred Kerry whilst 12.6 was for Bush. (DS)