ISIS: STATE OF TERROR
LINKSBlogs of War
Making Sense of Jihad
Views from the Occident
American Al Qaeda Members
News, documents and analysis on violent extremism
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Why Two Osama bin Laden Messages Instead Of One?Osama bin Laden issues two audio messages in two days, both on the subject of relief efforts, specifically in Pakistan.
Things just got interesting. Why two? Double-releases from Al Qaeda are not unprecedented, but they're usually on separate topics.
One of the following explanations seems to me to be the most likely:
1) The doubled-up message may be operational redundancy reflecting a lack of confidence on bin Laden's part regarding the pipeline through which his messages are transmitted to the public.
2) The messages may have been recorded at different times, but there was a delay in delivery resulting in both messages reaching the distributor (likely Adam Gadahn) at the same time.
Either of these explanations suggests that OBL's communications pipeline is vulnerable and under significant pressure. That in turn suggests that our recent unprecedented drone offensive in Pakistan is landing bombs close to bin Laden -- possibly very close -- or possibly to his chief media officer, Adam Gadahn.
Of course, we may not know how close we are. The drones could have been targeting someone else (or a target of unclear identity) and only incidentally endangered bin Laden or Gadahn.
There are other possible explanations. A particularly appealing notion is that our intelligence may have infiltrated the pipeline. Or rather, that AQ may suspect this has happened and arranged the double-release as a way to diagnose the problem. If one version leaks but the other doesn't, that implicates one distribution channel over the other.
Certainly, there is clear evidence that AQ and its regional allies are concerned about exactly this kind of infiltration. Three bullet-ridden bodies were recently deposited in North Waziristan with a note reading "Anyone who dares spy for the Americans will meet the same fate," according to several reports.
If this was a diagnostic tactic, that still suggests we are very close to bin Laden, although perhaps with a person instead of a drone.
In addition to the drone blitz, we also have the question of the capture of Al Qaeda operative Ahmad Siddiqui, who has indicated that AQ is planning Mumbai-style terrorist attacks in Europe and possibly the U.S., and that the attack was personally authorized by bin Laden.
Siddiqui was captured in July and has been providing incrementally more information each day, according to CNN and other sources. As his intelligence is processed, it no doubt leads to operations -- like the drone blitz. Could it be a coincidence that the first intelligence on bin Laden in years is being followed by all this activity?
For all these reasons, I favor the pressure option over the constellation of more mundane explanations -- hardware failure, Gadahn on vacation, editing problem which required splitting a single audio file, or a decision to split a single audio file to create the illusion of more activity, or offering an arcane coded signal to sleeper agents somewhere.
And I suspect the fact that the message was actually released means the pressure is more likely on bin Laden's side than on Gadahn's. If AQ is reacting to a suspected infiltration, Gadahn may not even know why he got two communiques instead of one.
Next post: So If We DID Kill Bin Laden, What Next?
Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.
Tweets referencing this post:
"...smart, granular analysis..."ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post
More on ISIS: The State of Terror
"...a timely warning..."Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
"At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times
More on Jihad Joe
Texas Deputies Shooter Linked To Republic Of Texas...
State Department Cables On Muwafaq Foundation
Zawahiri's New Video: Why No Mention Of September 11?
Discovery Channel Hostage Taker James Lee's Manifesto
Wikileaks: KBR employs 35 "bad guys" at Bagram Air...
Wikileaks Document: Afghan Intelligence Said In Ju...
Zachary Adam Chesser aka Abu Talha Al Amrikee Indi...
Abu Talha al-Amrikee aka Zachary Chesser Arrested,...
Inspire, Abu Talha and More...
Full AQAP Inspire Issue Posted Online
New York Pipe Bomb Suspect Linked to Revolution Muslim
The Utility of Lone Wolves
Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al Nasser
A Way Forward for CVE: The Five Ds
How Terrorists Use The Internet: Just Like You
PATCON: The FBI's Secret War on the Militia Movement
Interview About Jihad With Controversial Cleric Bilal Philips
Forgeries on the Jihadist Forums
U.S. Gave Millions To Charity Linked To Al Qaeda, Anwar Awlaki
State Department Secretly Met With Followers of Blind Sheikh
State Department Put 'Political Pressure' On FBI To Deport Brother-in-Law Of Osama Bin Laden In 1995
FBI Records Reveal Details Of Nixon-Era Racial Profiling Program Targeting Arabs
Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War
U.S. Had 'High Confidence' Of UBL Attack In June 2001
Behind the Handshake: The Rumsfeld-Saddam Meeting