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. Thomas, Illinois

    Leslie? To bad Bin Laden's still alive, huh? Thank your buddy Bush for that...

    June 3, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  2. Skip, a black man

    Hummmmmm lets blame it on Bush!

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

    You gotta be kidding me Leslie........what are you....12?

    June 3, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. Mark, Phoenix

    Bin Laden now fears that the international Muslim community realizes that they have regained an ally in the United States and must work collectively to rid themselves of religious extremists in their midst...just like we did in the last election.

    June 3, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. roberto

    "If" Osama is still alive, of course he is going to try to detract from Obamas trip. When the good guys try to get along with the "bad" guys, the bad guys have to round up their people and try to brainwash them into believing that the good guys do not care. Therefore, when the good guys state that they are trying to "extend a palm tree branch", the bad guys need to keep hating to keep their people mad.

    June 3, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  6. ed

    Oh, I forgot, then Bush danced arm in arm with him while holding swords (not each others)

    June 3, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  7. Matt


    Would there be a problem if he were a Muslim?

    June 3, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  8. Andrew, Buffalo NY

    Why is everything with Obama historic?

    June 3, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  9. Amateur Hour

    Obama is angry he is now not the center of attention on the apology tour.....

    June 3, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  10. republicans hate america

    Bush and Cheney are worse terrorists

    June 3, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  11. Texas Jake

    Hey Brian, would't it be great if we could stop the Bush bashing, he is gone, out of office, out of sight, finished, finito, so get a life and stop the hating, because your comments are very un-patriotic and un-Texanlike. Bin Ladin will always be public enemy #1, he despises our way of life, and all Americans. Obama, by extending an olive branch to the muslims is putting a choke hold on Bin Ladin. Hopefully the moderate muslim will see that our intentions have always been peacefull, and this should alienate the extreemist muslims like Osama, and maybe one of them will decide to collect on his Dead or Alive bounty, and do us all a favor.

    June 3, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  12. JK

    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"

    You sound like an old broken record. Please let it go. The President is not Muslim and is not out to destroy the US. Just pathetic.

    June 3, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  13. jubei

    Leslie sounds like a fool.
    -with that said lets get real for a moment.

    This is very telling, it drew out the big guy who's reported "star potential" is being compromised by a "BLACK" non-standard US leader.
    You see most of the middle east is very very "racially-stereo-typical" and Black in america while they are stereotyped in Saudi-arabia and the middle east in general offer an enigma.
    So what Blacks in America say given theyre unique history with their white oppressors "which slavery is used as a tool to bolster the concept of white (west) villiany", provides a very curious inquisitivity to Obama, and his message may have a more genuine tone to it. and that possibility coupled with his popularity makes him a very dangerous person for Usama.
    Obama is a very, very dangerous person for Al-queda and that good for America. I for one am tired of seeing our service men maimed, even if it is for a good cause. I dont want to do this another 10-15 yrs.

    June 3, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  14. J.P.

    I can't wait until we're all overrun by Islam. As a man, a conservative, and one who already loves Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food, I'll have it made in the shade. Just got to get used to bowing five times a day.

    Hippies, liberals, leftists, atheists, gays, lesbians, women, artists, actors, musicians, Hollywood, rabble rousers, et al... you guys are hosed under Islam and Sharia Law. Are you sure you don't want to join the conservatives in opposing the spread of Islam around the globe? I mean, really, you guys have far more to lose than I do if the "religion of peace" becomes the law of the land.

    June 3, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  15. Chris

    Right wing radicals like Leslie are the reason the Republican Party doesn't matter anymore. They would rather smear the President with ridiculous insults than support him. President Obama is trying to eliminate the taliban and al qaeda terrorists in the Swat Valley and far right sickos like Leslie won't give him any respect for that. Its no wonder this country went into a nosedive the past eight years.

    June 3, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  16. Lenny

    wow Leslie

    Unreal. Nothing is scarier than the depth and breadth of your total stupidity and lack of facts. THAT is far more worrisome a threat to America than any washed-up terrorist in a cave.

    Wow, just....wow.

    June 3, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  17. Carl from MI

    Bin Laden is still alive?? Thanks again, Dubya!!!

    Thanks for diverting our military and all of our resources away from the hunt for this guy and putting it all Into your own agenda!!!

    Thanks again, Dubya... and all who voted for him and supported him. WE HAVE ALL OF YOU TO THANK FOR BIN LADEN STILL BEING ALIVE AND FREE!!

    THANK YOU, GOP!!!!! Can't wait to NOT vote for you guys this fall...

    June 3, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  18. ib

    The Muslims and everyone else in the world is laughing at Obama while he puts our country down. Obama is determined to destroy this country and so far he is doing an excellant job of it. Bush started Obama will finish. Goodby USA

    June 3, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  19. paul, CT

    Leslie's statements are idiotic. Thank goodness we now have a president willing to stand up for our country. Bush didn't catch OBL. McCain said he knew how to catch OBL- but then never told anyone. Now we have someone who can get the job done.

    June 3, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  20. Matt

    First of all, his name is Barack Hussein Obama, you calling him "Hussein Obama" is just a vain attempt to compare him with a tyrant. And bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia is a custom, it's like a Catholic priest kissing the ring of a bishop as a sign of respect. And Obama is not a Muslim, he's Christian, so please get your facts right rather than trying to defame his character. And even if he were a Muslim, it's not necessarily a bad thing. .01% of all Muslims are fanatics, so dispel that misconception. And if you don't agree with his policies, so be it, but spare us all the ridiculous belief that Obama's "one goal in life" is to destroy America.

    June 3, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  21. Hans Brecker RI

    we shoulda taken him out when we had the chance.......nice goping Clinton

    June 3, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  22. Lori asks the GOP why Saddam is dead but Bin Laden is Alive?!!

    Bin Laden must miss the Bush days. Bush was all talk and no action. In the 8 years since 9/11 Bin Laden has been conquering more wives, having more children, tanning, relaxing watching al Jazeera, he even got to watch his ENEMY Saddam Hussein get executed for him. Who could ask for more, eh Bin Laden? But now that we have real leadership with President Obama we will put pressure on finding you in Pakistan or at least try. Thank God, we have President Obama and the Dems in charge of our foreign policy! The Muslim world respects Obama way more than they ever respected Bush and, Bin Laden knows that his list of enemies in the Muslim world is slowly growing.

    June 3, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  23. BubbaNH

    @Leslie: Please, get help.

    June 3, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  24. big papa

    Bin Laden's brand of hate...

    ...is going to meet the same fate as the Obama hating traitors' in this country's is...

    ...he'll be rejected by righteous and intelligent Muslims, and eventually found...

    ...just like the conservative low life's here in the U.S. who hate our country and President...

    ...they will be made irrelevant, and die ignominiously and anonymously...

    June 3, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  25. Levi Davis

    Wake up you all Bin Laden is dead
    Its a trick they wrote what they want, That one bearded guy put his piture up on TV then wrote onother message then say its Bine Ladin
    To trick folks
    It a mind game Beware

    June 3, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
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