Hoekstra: Bin Laden losing ground in Iraq

Analysis:

This story is based on a Grand Rapids Press reporter’s conversation with 2nd Congressional District Representative Pete Hoekstra on the new audio message by Osama bin Laden. The only person cited in this story is Hoekstra and the Press reporter never questions the claims made by Hoekstra. Hoekstra makes the claim that “the recent attacks in Algeria and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto were likely part of the campaign to destabilize moderate Islamic states,” yet according to independent reporter Robert Fisk, the Pakistanis are not blaming al-Qaida for the death of Bhutto.

Hoekstra does say he “expects to review the latest Osama bin Laden tape, released Saturday, once it is translated into English,” but there has not even been a formal verification that the audio tape is authentic. In a story posted on Al-Jazeera, they state, “The authenticity of the tape could not be verified.” Why did the Press not bother to provide another opinion on this issue or at least an independent point of view?

Story:

Osama bin Laden may not be desperate, but a new 56-minute tape shows he is losing ground in Iraq and trying to appeal to other Muslims in the region, said U.S. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Holland.

“The Muslim radicals who are not predisposed to violence, they have some real problems with al-Qaida,” Hoekstra said Sunday. “They are divided about what al-Qaida is doing in the Middle East, partly because a lot of the victims have been Muslim.”

Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, expects to review the latest Osama bin Laden tape, released Saturday, once it is translated into English. Reports show, however, that bin Laden has vowed to expand his terror group’s holy war to Israel.

Most of the tape dealt with Iraq, apparently al-Qaida’s latest attempt to keep supporters in Iraq unified while the U.S. military claims to have them on the run.

The tape did not mention Pakistan or the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, although Pakistan’s government has blamed al-Qaida and the Taliban for her death Thursday.

But bin Laden’s comments offered an unusually direct attack on Israel, which has warned of growing al-Qaida activity in Palestinian territory. The terror network is not believed to have taken a strong role there so far.

“We intend to liberate Palestine, the whole of Palestine from the (Jordan) river to the sea,” bin Laden said, threatening blood for blood, destruction for destruction.

Hoekstra said he was not particularly surprised by the tape.

“(Al-Qaida) is clearly losing in Iraq. The recent attacks in Algeria and the assassination of Benazir Bhutto were likely part of the campaign to destabilize moderate Islamic states, and bin Laden is likely emphasizing the destruction of Israel now because it will resonate better with Muslims sympathetic to the Palestinians. Al-Qaida is struggling to regain momentum after recent setbacks in Iraq,” he said.

Hoekstra said bin Laden is losing support of Sunni Arab tribal leaders in Iraq. Some have joined a coalition to fight insurgents linked to al-Qaida.

“This shift among Sunni tribal leaders is a real shift,” Hoekstra said.

“Bin Laden has been saying for the last five years very clearly what his strategy is. That focus has always been on Iraq,” he said. “He thought if he bloodied our nose, we would go away. That hasn’t happened.”

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org