Terror expert: Osama's words offer clues

SINGAPORE: For clues to where the al-Qaeda network could strike next, the words of its leader, Osama bin Laden, are a treasure trove. For an insight into its strength, the suicide bombers in Riyadh offer a lesson. 

“We have to take Osama at his word,” said terror expert Zachary Abuza of the Simmons College in Boston, referring to an audiotape released by the elusive extremist suspected of being behind the Sept 11, 2001 suicide attacks. 

“There will be several more attacks around the world,” said Abuza. 

“The most eligible for liberation are Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen,” Osama said in a February tape that urged Muslims to “liberate themselves from the enslavement of these oppressive, unjust, apostate ruling governments, which in turn are enslaved by America”. 

Suicide attacks killed dozens in two of those countries – Morocco and Saudi Arabia – in the last few days. 

If Osama's last tape gave a hint as to where attackers from his al-Qaeda could strike, the identities of the suicide bombers offer a valuable insight into al-Qaeda itself. 

One of the 15 bombers who died in Riyadh was just 19, too young to have been trained in now-demolished camps in Afghanistan and almost certainly a new recruit to a group that is rebuilding. 

US success in destroying al-Qaeda's haven in Afghanistan had brought new dangers and failed to curb the ambitions of a network whose attack killed 34 in Saudi Arabia last week. 

“What this means is that after they were dispersed from Afghanistan they have spread and reconsolidated themselves and are more dangerous for the Americans and counter-terrorist operatives because we knew where they were,” said David Wright-Neville, former senior terrorism adviser to Australia's Office of National Assessments. 

“Now we don't know,” said Wright-Neville, now at the Monash Global Terrorism Research Unit in Melbourne. 

“The only lesson from Iraq is that no state in the world can confront the Americans with a chance of success,” said Abuza. “The only way to make the Americans taste the humiliation that Arabs feel on a daily basis is through terrorism. 

“And the only person who can do that is Osama bin Laden and his loose network,” he said. – Reuters  

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