June 3rd, 2009
05:46 PM ET
14 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. Judge ye Not!!

    @ Leslie June 3rd, 2009 5:58 pm ET
    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****Sometimes it is better to keep your Mouth Shut and let people think you are stupid .than to open your Racist lying pie Hole and remove all DOUBTS!!!!

    June 3, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  2. jimmy

    I'll bet anything Leslie THINKS she/ he is a Christian. The only thing destroying America is the true ignorance of its populace.

    June 3, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  3. J. Smith

    since when has obama been a muslim?

    more importantly, why would that matter? i thought that our first amendment cleared up the issue of religion...

    June 3, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  4. Tammy

    Leslie: Really? You are that ignorant? Thats incredible. First its President Obama and second, because he is trying to open up dialogue with the Middle East and Muslims, he is trying to destroy America? Incredible. I don't understand how you are able to function in society with the level of ignorance you apparently suffer from.

    June 3, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  5. Tony

    @Leslie.......read your comments out loud to yourself and hear how parochial you sound. Folks like you are what stops the US from reclaiming its position as the great nation on earth, loved by all nations. Breeding hatred within would only bring the house down.

    Get educated!!!

    Long live Obama, Long live America!!!!

    June 3, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  6. Smart People

    @ Leslie

    No Leslie, ignorant dolts like yourself are destroying America.

    You are probably one of the people still screaming about the birth certificate nonsense....foolish...

    June 3, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  7. Kevin B

    The tactic Mr Obama is using is tried and true marginalizing of the enemy, while OBL and his supporters sit caves afraid of showing themselves and while Pakistan is in midst of a full fledged offensive against Al Queda we are building up forces in afghanistan.

    Al Queda know they have lost the momentum and thier philosophy of death will be defeated.

    It is really too bad GWB and his team never had the common sense and imagination to use this approach rather than leading the nation into the debacle in Iraq and alienating 1.4 billion muslims instead of keeping thier eye on Al Queda.

    This is yet another mess Mr Obama has fix after 8 years of incompetence by GWB and team.

    Go President Obama !!

    June 3, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  8. Phil

    Osama bin Laden. What a fighter he is. He hides while his people carry out what he preaches. Osama bin Laden is nothing but a chicken hideing in a pigs out fit and we all know how much Osama bin Laden loves pork.

    June 3, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  9. Sadie G

    Hey Leslie,

    Buy a freaking clue you nitwit. The President is not a Muslim but was if he was? Stop listening to Rush, Bill, Glen and the other morons on Fox and read a freaking book. I saw the president's arrival in Riyadh and don't recall him bowing but I do recall the idiot President Bush begging the Saudis to send us more oil last year. Did you b**** and moan about that? Get off the blog you freaking idiot bigot.

    June 3, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  10. lou

    this is a shame osama bin laden loves us americans he didnt hurt any one 911 was a mistake mistakes do happen,anyway nobody remembers 911 everybody forgot already get over it.

    June 3, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  11. Legna

    Obama fires words ....Bin Laden fires bullets and bombs....wake up America!!!!!!

    June 3, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  12. IndyVoter


    Seriously? You must be on some new type of pharmaceutical. Do you even realize that every time you call the President "Hussein Obama" that it is like calling him "Mike Obama" The name Hussein is as common in the Middle East as John or Michael is here. Just as you couldn't possibly assume that two Christian white men named John in the US have the same world view, opinions and/or values, you can't make any connection with President Obama and radical, extremist Islam (or any version of Islam for that matter since Obama is, by his own profession, a Christian). Your ignorance is astounding.

    June 3, 2009 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  13. Jay

    Bin Laden died a long time ago, who is really dumb enough to think he's still alive? Go google up one of those collage pictures of all of the "CIA declared authentic" videos, it's blatantly not the same person in all of them, plus the age fluctuations of +/- 10years. Of course, the same CIA that would NEVER lie to Pelosi also declared the infamous "Grecian Beard Formula for Men" Bin Laden video as authentic. If he was truly able to run around the ToraBora mountains on kidney dialysis, then you must concede that "God" is on his side, let's see one of your 50+ y/o parents do that....

    June 3, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  14. Doug

    Oh my, Brian in Sugarland! You write more like a terrorist than a post-partisan! No. Wait. You're probably just an attention-starved, inept dude. Sorry about that. You're probably incapable of rational thought. Too much hulu, no doubt.

    June 4, 2009 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  15. john

    Really leslie? What rock do you hate under? I'm sad I read your comment. I feel sad for you because you actually think like this. Just try to read and listen to facts. It will help your troubled mind.

    June 4, 2009 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  16. Responding to Leslie

    Leslie, your comment is so ignorant and petulant, that I felt I lost a few IQ points just by reading it. Seriously, if that's the best you could do, then you are in worst shape than I thought. Go count rocks and leave intelligent dicussions to grownups.

    June 4, 2009 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  17. ender

    Leslie you are exactly the "ignorant american" the world despises.

    June 4, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  18. barry

    Muslims will be listening to obama rather bin laden.

    June 4, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
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