Sunday, June 23, 2002
Al Jazeera, the Arabic-language TV network -- which broadcast the message -- said it received the tape from Abu Ghaith, who said bin Laden soon will appear on television.
Maybe it's true; maybe Osama will show up looking hale and hearty in a new videotape, and he can drop some remarks about Saudi Arabia's performance in the World Cup to give evidence that it's a recent tape.
But -- and forgive me for wishing ill upon Mr. bin Laden -- I can think of a few scenarios that I would find more amusing. Examples:
1. Jihad at Bernie's -- In which Sulaiman Abu Ghaith and other al-Qaeda operatives prop Osama's corpse in a chair with sunglasses and other acoutrements to disguise the fact that he has shed his mortal coil, and use various sleights of hand to jiggle his chin so as to imitate talking motions.
2. Mullah Hartman Mullah Hartman -- In which it turns out that Osama has survived, but after falling into a vat of acid he has undergone plastic reconstructive surgery that makes him look exactly like, say, Tab Hunter.
Ah, late 2000.... That hot new tune, "Who Let the Dogs Out?" by the Baja Men was number 5 on the charts. And we sang along with it as we flocked to the theaters to see "Almost Famous," which opened to rave reviews. Almost seems like another century.
So now, having waited for the premature snuffing of more than 2,000 Palestinian and Israeli lives, having allowed the most violent elements within the territories to ratchet the violence up to an apocalyptic level, having let the genie of nihilistic terror for terror's sake out of the bottle -- now the good Chairman is ready to sign on the dotted line.
Sadly, this was a limited time offer. You snooze, you lose. Unfortunately, in this case so does everybody else. Mr. Clinton is retired from the Presidency, having stepped down in yet another peaceful transition of power in the U.S. Mr. Barak is also retired from his leadership position, voted out of office thanks in no small part to Arafat et al's "explosive" response to the Barak/Clinton proposals of late 2000. Only Mr. Arafat still seems to be haunting the corridors of power, not bothering with anything so footling as a re-election to determine his legitimacy (or an initial election, according to this article).
What next? Maybe the leader of the PA can attempt to put in a last-minute bid for this Rembrandt, sold at auction in December 2000.