First of all, I'm not sure the guy on the tape IS bin Laden. Sure, he looks like bin Laden, but about as much as the guy playing Santa at the company party this year looks like the guy who played Santa last year--both have a big beard and a hat. I'm no expert, and the pictures I've seen from the tape look far away, but the new guy looks a little old to me. I also seem to remember that in the pictures I've seen of OBL, he had these jug-handle ears that stuck out from his head. The new guy's ears don't show, but I guess he could have them tucked under the head dressing. Also, this guy's skin looks a little lighter than OBL's, although this could simply be a result of having to stay indoors more frequently. Not conclusive, I guess, but I also seem to remember that Bin Laden was left-handed, but he appears to be right-handed on the video in question.
Even if the face is his, the words don't seem to be. He's reading from a script, something I've never seen him do before. It's Ramadan--a religious month--Where's all the religious talk? Where's the weapon he always has nearby? MEMRI has some interesting thoughts on the comment:
Another conspicuous aspect of the tape is the absence of common Islamist themes that are relevant to the month of Ramadan, which for fundamentalists like bin Laden is the month of Jihad and martyrdom. Noticeably absent from the Al-Jazeera tape was his usual appearance with a weapon, and more importantly the absence of references to Jihad, martyrdom, the Koran, the Hadith (Islamic tradition), Crusaders, Jews, and the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad on the duty to wage Jihad against the infidels.
There's just too much weirdness about the whole thing. And when did Bin Laden become a Democrat? He seems to be covering the Democratic talking points, and telling the people of the U.S. to vote for Kerry if they know what's good for them. But we know that unlike, say, Saddam, Osama doesn't hate Bush and only Bush because OBL was doing plenty of bad things during the Clinton administration.
Now I'm not big on conspiracy theories, but I have to wonder...If it IS Bin Laden (and until I see a closer, sharper image, I'm gonna say it's not) I wonder if perhaps he might be a "guest" of some other country. A country that might want to influence the election, say. That would explain the reading from the script, and the lack of the ever-present weapon, and the absence of religious reference.
I'm just thinking out loud, really, but I can't immediately think of anything that would preclude that scenario. Plus, no matter who won the presidency, OBL's "hosts" would have one hell of a bargaining chip post-election, wouldn't they?
Just something to think about.
Update: I'm not the only one who thinks it's fake. Also, here's a link to (from the same site) a funeral announcement from an Egyptian newspaper:
A prominent official in the Afghan Taleban movement announced yesterday the death of Osama bin Laden, the chief of al-Qa'da organization, stating that binLaden suffered serious complications in the lungs and died a natural and quiet death. The official, who asked to remain anonymous, stated to The Observer of Pakistan that he had himself attended the funeral of bin Laden and saw his face prior to burial in Tora Bora 10 days ago. He mentioned that 30 of al-Qa'da fighters attended the burial as well as members of his family and some friends from the Taleban. In the farewell ceremony to his final rest guns were fired in the air. The official stated that it is difficult to pinpoint the burial location of bin Laden because according to the Wahhabi tradition no mark is left by the grave. He stressed that it is unlikely that the American forces would ever uncover any traces of bin Laden.
But hey, for all I know, that could be the Egyptian equivalent of the Weekly World News.