Oct. 1, 2010 — -- Osama bin Laden released his first audio tape since March today calling for Muslim relief and charity in places like flood-ravaged Pakistan.
The new message comes despite a record number of drone attacks along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border targeting Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. Both Bin Laden and Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman Zawahiri are believed to be hiding in the mountainous border region.
The 11-minute message could not be immediately authenticated but was released on a variety of known extremist websites with an old still photo of the al Qaeda leader. The message was largely addressed to Pakistani citizens affected by recent devastating floods.
Although there is no date referenced, the recent floods in Pakistan suggest the recording is no more than two months old.
In several recent messages bin Laden has shifted slightly from militancy and addressed geopolitics, climate change and environmental disasters, seeking to appear as a humanitarian. His previous message, however, threatened the US with violence if 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammed is executed by the US government.
Today's tape is also the third in a series of recent al Qaeda messages focused on Pakistan and the flooding there. Al Qaeda number two Ayman al Zawahiri and American Adam Gadahn both released recent messages attacking the Pakistani governments slow and ineffectual response to flooding in that country. The shift reveals al Qaeda's most recent strategy, which is stoking resentment inside Pakistan against the government there.
Although bin Laden doesn't directly threaten the West, the message comes after European and US intelligence uncovered a terror plot personally requested by bin Laden.
According to European and American intelligence officials, bin Laden asked al Qaeda affiliates to attack England, France and Germany using a "Mumbai- style" attack aimed at "soft and economic" targets.