Does Bin Laden Tape Warn of New Attacks?

Osama bin Laden is shown in an image taken from a banner featured on an Islamic militant Web site on Sept. 10, 2007. The banner says al Qaeda's media arm will release a new video of bin Laden, in which he introduces the last statement of one of the 9/11 hijackers.
In a tape released Sunday al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the attempted Christmas day terror attack in Detroit. Experts say the tape ominously promises more. And CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston reports bin Laden addressed the president with an odd familiarity.

It was brief - one minute - and almost personal: a tape believed to be the voice of Osama bin Laden addressing President Obama and endorsing Christmas plane bomb suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a "hero." Analysts say it does not matter to bin Laden that the attempt in Detroit -- by an al Qaeda affiliate failed.

"Even though they did not kill anybody, they see it as a big propaganda coup," said Paul Cruickshank a terrorism analyst at the NYU Center for Law and Security. "They're in the media again, and they were, if you like, terrorizing people again."

Bin Laden's audio message, one of more than 30 since al Qaeda's 9/11 attacks, comes at a time of heightened security in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. What is particularly troubling for analysts is bin Laden's use of language that preceded other attacks.

"Peace be upon those who follow the light of guidance," bin Laden said in the tape.

"This phrase, which appears at the beginning and end of the message, only appears in bin Laden's statements typically in messages that come in advance of an attack," said Ben Venzke CEO of Intelcenter, a private contractor that works with counter-terrorism agencies. "This could be in the coming weeks or as far out as 12 or 14 weeks from now."

Bin laden issued that same threat warning in the months before the London train bombings in 2005 and the Danish embassy attack in Islamabad in 2008.

"America will never dream of living in peace unless we live it in Palestine," bin Laden said.

In his latest message, bin Laden focused on a familiar theme: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- with no reference to America's main military engagements.

"This is a message for the American people," Cruickshank said. "This is a message that says unless you change your foreign policy, we are going to continue attacking you."

Such messages from bin Laden serve primarily as al Qaeda recruiting tools. The U.S. government says bin Laden is trying to remain in the public dialogue - and stay relevant.

Bin Laden "realizes that by putting a tape out and claiming responsibility, by praising people launching attacks, he strengthens the al Qaeda organization, strengthens its recruiting abilities, because he is seen, unfortunately, as an inspiration to a small minority of radical-leaning Muslims in the world," Cruickshank said.

The Israel-Palestinian issue is "the one issue which really has a lot of anger associated with it in the Muslim world," Cruickshank said. "Al Aaeda is trying to use this issue to create more recruits … at a time when it is under increasing criticism from a whole variety of people in the Muslim world."