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. La Chatte

    Leslie, you are so off base! Obama is not a Muslim, not that it would matter, really. It's people like you who are obviously uneducated and only semi-literate that spread untruths out of ignorance. Have you ever had a conversation with a Muslim? Have you ever had a conversation with anyone who wasn't an over-the-top, fundamentalist Christian? Do us all a favor and learn to read.

    June 3, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  2. Ryan

    Claudia in Houson June 3rd, 2009 5:51 pm ET

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

    June 3, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  3. Minnesotan

    Osama bin Laden is nothing more than a Nancy-boy. His name gets trotted out like the boogeyman, but he wasn't even the mastermind of 9/11. Bin Laden hasn't done or said anything in years that would be worthy of note. We still need to capture or kill him, but at this point, he's as effete and worthless as Perez Hilton or George Bush.

    June 3, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  4. Re: Leslie

    More of the same lies that have been proven false time and time again. Are you living in the same cave as bin Laden?

    June 3, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  5. Scott

    To leslie-
    Nice racist banter. What kind of rims does your house have?

    June 3, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  6. Jasmine in Germany

    I don't think Usāmah bin Muḥammad bin `Awaḍ bin Lādin is alive. It is time to look to the future. Let's hope that President Obama's meetings with the leadership of Saudi Arabia and Egypt advances and promotes positive relationships leading to the path of world peace.

    June 3, 2009 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  7. Expat American

    Leslie June 3rd, 2009 5:58 pm ET
    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
    All 'Muslims' are the same to you, right? You're an idiot.
    You don't even realize that thanks to the global media and real time news, the world was and still is laughing at redneck uneducated slack jaw trash like you.
    Wash your XXXL red Palin sweatshirt....It stinks...

    June 3, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  8. S Callahan

    Interesting when a person puts a fig leaf out another comes along and tries to put coals on it.

    June 3, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  9. Duckman

    Dear Leslie,

    your linkage of the the duly elected POTUS to the terrorist bin Ladin and your false statement about his faith saddens me. Especially if you are a US citizen. I pray for your healing

    Personally, I think the POTUS is thinking strategically and that is in the long term best interests of the US.

    Best Regards

    June 3, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  10. ERP

    Finally, a genuine American President who speaks, acts and is respected as a world leader.

    There is yet hope for this troubled world of ours.

    June 3, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  11. Lyn

    Bin Laden is a coward! Why is he still hiding? He should be ashamed of himself for the havoc he has caused in the world.

    June 3, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  12. Osama Bin Laden

    Go after him OBAMA correct a situation that the great REAGAN-BUSH Administration made and Jr's lack of ambition to catch Bin Laden because he was afraid of what the man would telll about his father. BUT THERE'S NOTHING HOLDING YOU FROM TAKING THE EVIL MAN OUT. If he is in the mountains along the Pakistan border who gives a darn. Tell Pakistan to back off and get their citzens out because your going to blast the hell out of that area. Do it now and to hades with making some muslims mad.

    June 3, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  13. Detroit Larry

    leslie, there's is medicine for what u have

    June 3, 2009 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  14. Charles

    Even as a Republican who does not like Obama, I find it absolutely LUDACRIS that the COWARD usama bin laden is saying that Barack Obama is "spreading hate". bin laden is the definition of blind hatred, and I can't wait until we catch him, or until his weak kidney's die off and his body shuts down. He deserves a harsher punishment than Sadaam Hussein, and I hope PRESIDENT OBAMA catches bin laden, shaves his beard, and puts his trial on CNN.

    June 3, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  15. demwit

    W\hat happened last time Obama warn of impending attacks?

    June 3, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  16. james

    are you really that stupid? how is he gonna ruin america? by not attacking some random country. the horror of it all. we wont be stuck in a bloody pointless replay of vietnam. that fear of us not fighting another pointless war keeps me up at night. where will i send my kids to die now?

    June 3, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  17. demwit

    oh..., my bad. I meant ehat happened last time Osama warned of impending attacks,

    June 3, 2009 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  18. Albo58

    Obana's "historic efforts" in the Arab world? Sort of like EVERY president since 1948 efforts? You know, just because Obama does or says it doesn't automatically make it an earthquaking, historic event...

    June 3, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  19. No To Obama

    Osama, hmmm Obama, same in the same, muslim and anti-christ, same in the same, selling out America and wanting to destroy America, Osama and Obama, muslim brothers who are intent on dictating to the American people. The smoke screen is clearing, people see who you really are Obama.

    June 3, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  20. MBFLA

    Leslie, go Cheney yourself!

    June 3, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  21. Otto

    Leslie, you are sick and deranged; get some help quickly!

    June 3, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  22. Barb

    @ Leslie..... give it a break... President Obama is your PRESIDENT!!! He is not a Muslim!!!!! He is a Christian. Too bad you don't hold the same principles as he does... he's trying to get the world in sync... to soften hardened attitudes, and to show a willingness to engage others. I'm a Canadian, and I think

    1. he's doing the best he can while confronted with more obstacles than any one can imagine (not the least of which is attitudes such as your own.

    2. he not only has a vision for the future, he has the guts to do the hard work and take on the hard issues.

    3. he is an inspiration for the rest of us...


    June 3, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  23. The Omen

    Tick, tick, tick . . .

    Enjoy your last, fleeting moments of relevance. It's only a matter of time before you're either dead, obsolete, or both. Won't be long now, bin Laden, and you know it.

    June 3, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  24. Al Qaeda has nothing to worry about....

    Obama is throwing Israel to the wolves-–

    June 3, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  25. Flipper

    Oooo, take that Osama! Words, words, and more words from the Obama administration.

    June 3, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
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