Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden said he is trying to bankrupt the U.S. through its war on terror, a strategy he says felled the Soviet Union two decades ago in Afghanistan, according to a translation by al-Jazeera television of his full, videotaped statement.
“The mujahedeen recently forced Bush to resort to emergency funds to continue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, which is evidence of the success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan — with Allah’s permission,” bin Laden said in the video that aired on the Qatar-based satellite network, according to the translation, posted today to al-Jazeera’s Web site. The channel aired portions of the statement on Oct. 29.
President George W. Bush’s administration plans to seek an additional $70 billion from lawmakers for Iraq and Afghanistan, the head of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, General Paul Kern, said on Oct. 26. The U.S. Congress last year approved $87 billion for military operations and rebuilding in the two countries.
Bin Laden’s video appearance, his first since September 2003, came four days before the Nov. 2 presidential vote in which Bush’s anti-terrorism policies will play a central role. Bush’s challenger, Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, said in debates and campaign speeches that the president should have focused on capturing bin Laden rather than invading Iraq.
Saudi-born bin Laden, who aided the Muslim resistance against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, boasts in his latest message of how little the Sept. 11 attacks cost and how large a financial impact they had on the U.S. Bin Laden accuses Bush of waging war to benefit Halliburton Co. and other contractors, and leaving American taxpayers with the bill. The Bush administration has rejected such linkages.
The terror leader cites a speech by an unidentified British diplomat at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, which he says outlines the financial impact of Sept. 11 by comparing the estimated $500,000 spent to carry out the assault with the damage caused.
Bin Laden said “every dollar of al-Qaeda defeated a million dollars by the permission of Allah, besides the loss of a huge number of jobs.”
The Bush policy of mounting a global war on terror has made it easy for al-Qaeda to “bait” the U.S. government, bin Laden said.
“All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies,” bin Laden said, according to the al-Jazeera transcript.