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by Joseph Cannon    Cannonfire
Entered into the database on Monday, July 10th, 2006 @ 17:04:15 MST


Untitled Document

I doubt that I've ever before used the acronym WTF, but this story delivers good reason to take up the habit. In his most recent broadcast to the world, Osama Bin Laden proclaimed that Zarqawi's successor in Iraq is one Abu Ayyub al-Masri. The United States concurred, and offered both a bounty and a history:

The military said al-Masri was born and brought up in Egypt. He then went to Afghanistan, where he trained in bomb-making before going to Iraq in 2002.

However, an Egyptian newspaper reports that this fellow has been holed up in a prison in Egypt for the past seven years.

"Sharif Hazaa [al-Muhajir] is in Tura prison, and I met him two days ago while I was visiting some of my clients," Ismail, a lawyer known for defending Islamist groups, told the newspaper.

Sharif Hazaa al-Muhajir is another name used by the same fellow. (Incidentally, "al-Masri" means "the Egyptian.")

Mistaken identity? Possibly. I'm tempted to bump that up to a "probably." As recently as three years ago, I would have scoffed at any other suggestion. But this administration has compiled such an impressive resume of deception, we can no longer dismiss outright the wilder theories.

One such theory would hold that Sharif Hazaa/Abu Ayyub al-Masri is nothing more than a scarecrow, erected to replace Zarqawi -- the original scarecrow, outed as such in the press and thus required to "die." To make the new bogeycreature into a credible threat, the scarecrow-stuffers created a fake Bin Laden tape. Digital sampling works wonders, eh wot?

Many Bin Laden tapes have been questioned -- see here and here. Conspiracy buffs aren't the only ones voicing doubts: Even Walter Cronkite has toyed with these suspicions.

Those suspicions come backed by expert opinion. In 2002, a respected Swiss research institute proclaimed a then-recent Osamacast to be phoney. See also this piece by Arabist Kevin Barrett, from last February:

The trouble is, it's all based on a Big Lie. Take the recent "bin Laden" tape, please! That voice was no more bin Laden than it was Rodney Dangerfield channeling my late Aunt Corinne from Peoria. I recently helped translate a previously unknown bin Laden tape, a real one from the early '90s, back when he was still alive. I know the guy's flowery religious rhetoric. The recent tape wasn't him.

The top American bin Laden expert agrees. Professor Bruce Lawrence, head of Duke University's religious studies department, has just published a book of translations of bin Laden's speeches. He says that the recent tape is a fake and that it is possible bin Laden is not even alive.

Who knows? Maybe Bin Laden really did die in 2001, as many have claimed. Maybe al-Masri really has been in Tura prison. Maybe Zarqawi is living under an assumed name in Albuquerque. Maybe Al Qaida's central committee is a conclave of scarecrows.


Read from Looking Glass News

I hear dead people

Where do messages from OBL, Zawahri come from?

Osama Tape Appears Fake, Experts Conclude

The making of the April 2006 bin Laden tape

Osama, Abu, and Ayman: al-CIA-Duh Telethon

Al-Zarqawi Video Is A Pentagon Propaganda Psy-Op

New Zogby Poll Frightens Masters Of Terror Into Releasing "Bin Laden Tape"

Dead Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Makes a Video Debut

What's not right about the Osama Bin Laden audio tape

AP Recycles Old Bin Laden Tape For New Propaganda

Latest Bin Laden Tape: Another of the NeoCons' "Greatest Hits"

Zarqawi Dog and Pony Show Rolls On

The Battle for Your Mind: Persuasion & Brainwashing Techniques Being Used on the Public Today

Cut-outs, moles, patsies and provocateurs