As I’m sure you have heard by now, Osama bin Laden released a new videotape.

There are a number of theories in play at the moment as to his primary goal, some of which I will discuss below in addition to my own views on the matter.

The message serves a number of purposes. First and foremost, it confirms his continued existence for both his followers and adversaries. There has been speculation in various circles pertaining to his health and ability to elude those who are looking for him. The image he presents is younger and more vigorous then those in the past, bolstering the resolve of his organization and perhaps twisting the thorn in the side of the United States and its allies. That is the primary goal of this tape, and there are there other secondary objectives, which come into play but may not be readily apparent.

Why he is doing it at this point in time remains a key factor in current news cycle. The timed release of this tape has strategic importance for what he intends to accomplish and is critical to his secondary objectives. With General Petraeus and top military advisers ready to deliver their findings on the situation in Iraq this week, the conflict and the Middle East will remain in the spotlight. The continued voice of the mastermind behind 9/11 will never be far from discussion. It’s a key underlying factor that needs to be recognized: he is releasing this tape now to capitalize on the media coverage of Iraq and the Middle East.

Within the tape itself he mentions Iraq in addition to bringing up the pain and suffering of the 9/11 attacks. The inflammatory commentary is designed with two distinct possibilities in mind, which merits further discussion, and would serve to support his organizations long-term goals. These are what I feel best summarize his goals with the release of the video:

It is his hope and in the best interests of his organization for the United States to remain in Iraq and continue to pour its resources into the conflict to the point of destabilizing the nation at home. As much as Bin Laden may criticize the United States, capitalism, and the West; he is highly educated and has an in depth understanding of his adversary and how to strike at them. Think back to the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. In addition to tragedy and pain they caused the nation, they also represented the financial heart of country.

By the United States remaining in Iraq and the Middle East it would serve as a rallying point around his cause. If you take out the U.S. presence it would detract from his ability to point to the “Great White Satan” and their continued violation of The Holy Land. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the military and American presence in Iraq has actually served to increase his credibility and standing in the Islamic world as opposed to striking at the enemy that attacked the country.

If the videotape plays again and again over the course of the week and the media discusses Osama Bin Laden at great length, then his objectives would have been achieved. He would have manipulated the American media into carrying out his own agenda and spreading his message to organizational members and the world.

The height of ironies: Osama Bin Laden using freedom of speech within the United States of America.

If leadership in the United States really wants to focus on handcuffing Bin Laden as much as possible, they should publicly ignore the videotape and give it virtually no airtime. Do not discuss it in press briefings and implore the major media outlets to play it as little as possible or not at all.

The successful strategy to combating violent extremism in the world today is to isolate credibility. The information saturated media environment we exist in is determined by whom we see and hear. By giving Bin Laden an international stage and platform to use, it will only undermine the national security and stability of the United States.

In the long run, the way to combat extremism is by portraying reactionaries and violent individuals for where they are: outside credibility and outside the civilized world.

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