Feature

Is Bin Laden still scary?

He claims he masterminded the Flight 253 bombing in a move some call chilling — and others dismiss as a pathetic plea for relevance

In an unauthenticated audiotape sent to Al Jazeera, Osama Bin Laden (or someone who does a respectable impression of him) is claiming credit for the botched Christmas bombing on Flight 253, saying that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's operation was "a confirmation of the previous messages sent by the heroes of the Sept. 11." He also warns of future attacks. Does this tape show that Bin Laden still poses a significant threat to the U.S., or has he — as some experts say — been reduced to claiming credit for other people's failures to keep his name in the headlines? (Watch a CBS report about Osama bin Laden's latest tape)

Bin Laden is now officially a has-been: "I'm going to go out on a limb here," says Juan Cole in Informed Comment, and say that the tape isn't genuine and, moreover, that "it demonstrates that Bin Laden, whether he is dead or alive, is now irrelevant." The tape isn't his style, thematically or tactically. If by some chance it really "is Bin Laden, it is a pitiful Bin Laden trying to stay relevant by grandstanding and stealing others' thunder.""The irrelevance of Bin Laden"
Obama needs to pay attention to this tape: Hey, "when Bin Laden speaks the President should listen," says James Carafano at the Heritage Foundation's Foundry blog. So far, Obama has "relegated the war on terrorism" to one speech, and he certainly hasn't "demonstrated he takes Bin Laden’s words seriously." We've made that mistake before — Obama repeats it as his, and our, peril."Bin Laden: Can you hear me now?"
Sure, Bin Laden's pathetic — but the joke's on us: Even if "Osama is alive and the tape is genuine," says James Joyner in Outside the Beltway, it's pretty amusing that "he’s now reduced to bragging about horribly botched operations to bolster his credibility." That said, "it would be funnier... if we weren't massively overreacting" by curtailing civil liberties and making it incredibly inconvenient and time consuming to fly."Bin Laden Christmas bombing tape"

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SEE MORE OF THE WEEK'S COVERAGE OF THE 'CHRISTMAS BOMBING' ATTEMPTFlight 253: Who's to blame?Who is Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab?Terrorism's new hideout

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