June 3rd, 2009
05:46 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama officials fire back at bin Laden

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) - This kingdom is the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, so it was interesting to see how the terrorist tried to overshadow President Obama's trip here by releasing a new audiotape threatening America on Wednesday.

Perhaps just as interesting is the fact that unlike their predecessors in the Bush White House, who tried their hardest to ignore bin Laden, Obama administration officials took the rare step of engaging the 9/11 mastermind by charging his latest threat is just a desperate attempt to try and upstage the president's trip.

"I don't think it's surprising that Al-Qaeda would want to shift attention away from the president's historic efforts, and continued efforts, to reach out and have an open dialogue with the Muslim world," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters during a press briefing here.

Related: Purported bin Laden tape slams U.S. role in Pakistan

It was a message reinforced by officials throughout the Obama administration: "I think the timing is pretty self-evident and it doesn't take a rocket scientist on this one," declared Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

P.J. Crowley, spokesman at the State Department, got into the act as well by teeing up the president's Thursday speech in Cairo by taunting bin Laden a bit.

"You have, you know, the leader of the free world speaking from one of the great cities in the world," said Crowley. "And you have the - you know, bin Laden speaking from an undisclosed, you know, location. And I think that speaks - that speaks volumes in terms of the contrast."

Crowley added, "So I think there will be a contrast between the, you know, Bin Laden's vision of intolerance and perpetual conflict and the president's message tomorrow offering a vision of peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, and interconnected world, you know, for the 21st century."

In private, top Obama officials are even blunter, claiming bin Laden feels threatened that Obama's outreach - coupled with his vow to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay - is pulling the terrorist's top recruiting tools off the table.

For his part, bin Laden charged in his audiotape: "Obama proved that he is walking the same road of his predecessors to build enmity among Muslims and increase the number of fighters against the U.S."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (218 Responses)
  1. Claudia in Houson

    bin Laden knows the U.S. isn't looking for him and he feels sligted that Muslims will be listening to President Obama.

    June 3, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  2. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Wouldn't it be great if we could draw and quarter both bin Ladin and Bush at the same time.

    Oh, I would do a serious pay-per-view for that!

    June 3, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  3. Leslie

    Bin Laden has nothing to worry about Hussein Obama, he was busy in Riyadh bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia.

    Bin L:aden shouldn't get mad with Hussein Obama, both of them are MUSLIMS, both of them have one goal in life – destroy America. Bin Laden should be supprotive of his brother

    June 3, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. David in Houston

    Leslie,

    You are a moron.

    Thanks,
    David S.

    June 3, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. realistic obama supporter

    I realize it is a free country, but did ya really have to let Leslie the dimwitted fool have her airhead-time on CNN? Did ya??

    June 3, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  6. TrueIndependent

    @Leslie – 5.58: Could you be more unintelligent?
    And when you buy gas at less than $3 this week when others around the world are paying $5 remind yourself why.

    June 3, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  7. Simpliticus

    The timing of this thing stinks. How convenient for bin Laden to come out now just after Cheney gets basted for his torture edicts and ethos! Come to think of it, wasn't bin Laden paraded out of the closet about the same time a major election was to take place in order to reinforce the "stop terrorism" campaign? Sometimes I think that bin Laden and Cheney just might be on the same political page one way or the other because the uncanny nature of the timing of bin Laden's appearance seems to convey a fast-track effort to upbraid Cheney's position. Siamese twins at least on the mental path anyway!

    June 3, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  8. single mom

    Oh, for heaven's sake. "Trying to upstage the President"??? This isn't high school, people!

    June 3, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  9. We are in trouble!

    Obama is a joke.

    June 3, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  10. Alan

    Leslie

    You are so incredibly ignorant that I wonder how this country survives sometimes.

    June 3, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  11. phoenix86

    "Leslie",
    is being idiot your profesional ocupation? It looks so!

    June 3, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  12. therealmarie

    President Obama didn't "Fire Back" at anything said by Osama. He doesn't have to do such a thing. He has the powerful support (65% +) of the American people and the Greatest military in the world. Enough said. Cut out the dumb worded headlines.

    June 3, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  13. AK

    Leslie and Claudia, ur ignorance is evident in your writing. Probably didn't finish grade school... eh??

    June 3, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  14. Bruce

    Linda, you certainly are an ignorant BIGOT. Sorry you don't like the President's middle name. It was on the birth certificate many of you claim is fake (but accepted by every state).
    It's too bad you are wasting your life.

    June 3, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  15. Proud American

    Yes, I agree with the administration.

    Osama Bin Laden needs soldiers. Soldiers – especially suicide soldiers – are harder to get when the enemy becomes less of an enemy. Osama BinLaden's last interest is peace and progress. Of course he will use and make propaganda to 'evil' President Obama. In my opinion, the louder Bin Laden gets right now, the better we are doing as Americans, the better stance we have in freeing ourselves from fears of attack, the better chance we have of peace.

    June 3, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  16. AK

    Claudia, my apologies... That was meant for Leslie alone.

    June 3, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  17. The Broker.

    The Garbage-Bin?

    June 3, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  18. Bruce

    Brian G:
    While I don't care for Bush, I would rather not imply he is in the same category as Osama Bin Laden!

    June 3, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  19. Pat, NJ

    Leslie: People like you should be tried for treason.

    June 3, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  20. ed

    Leslie – Bush kissed the King of Saudi Arabia on the mouth then held his hand as they strolled around a flower garden, or don't you remember?

    June 3, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  21. Bobbie in Maryland (Could I PLEASE get out of moderation???)

    @Leslie...who said,Bin Laden has nothing to worry about Hussein Obama, he was busy in Riyadh bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia.

    Bin L:aden shouldn't get mad with Hussein Obama, both of them are MUSLIMS, both of them have one goal in life – destroy America. Bin Laden should be supprotive of his brother
    -------------------------------
    When Obama bows to the king from Saudi Arabia, it is a greeting & sign of respect in that culture. Please try to educate yourself. Thank you.
    Also...are you STILL stuck on that false rumor that the President is Muslim? See previous section.
    -

    June 3, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  22. Dick

    P.J. "You know" Crowley must be taking speech lessons from Caroline Kennedy.

    June 3, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  23. MFIRAJI

    Leslie,

    Go back to school and learn how to spell DUMMY !!

    June 3, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  24. Dawn in Pa

    Leslie gee whiz, you rightwing nut, look at archives and see Bush grabbing the Saudi King hand and kissing him, Obama is NOT a Muslim, do research, When Bush came into the Oval Office, there was a surplus, he spent that money, he deregulated the banks, they handed out more bonus then you were alive.

    Do more research, Bush did get information on Bin Laden from Clinton. The extremist will always try to distroy the US, not Obama.

    June 3, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  25. Mike in San Antonio

    Wow...he "fired" back at him huh? Geez, with all these letters of condemnation flying all around the place (North Korea, Islamic fundamentalists, bin Laden, etc), I sure hope no one suffers a severe paper cut!

    June 3, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
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