Savannahians on Bin Laden Tape - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/20/06

Savannahians on Bin Laden Tape

For the first time in a year, Osama bin Laden put out an audio tape, this time with some unusual comments. He threatens more attacks on the United States, but also talks about a possible truce. The ten-minute message is a mix of that and encouragement for his followers.

The threats and the truce took a lot of people by surprise. But are they credible? We hit the streets in Savannah to hear what people are saying. Pretty much across the board, people say he can't be trusted with his supposed truce offer, but there's a little debate over how much power bin Laden still has.

"I think it's all a lie, a gimmick," said Tiwanda Middleton. "And I think he's going to do something."

"I think it's just a scam so he can get us out and come back again," said Julie Stapp.

Even if bin Laden is serious about seeing peace between al Qaeda and the US, some people say it's a little late for that. "I don't see that America should make a truce with him after what he did," said Lucas McFarland. "I don't think there's much reason to have a truce with him."

While most people seem to agree they don't trust any peace offerings from al Qaeda, there is a little debate about how dangerous bib Laden is at this point. Some people think he's a legitimate threat, while others say being on the run for so long is limiting his power.

"I think it's something to be concerned about, but given the fact that they have not been successful in three years, probably their capabilities are diminished," Dave Schildmeyer said.

"I don't think he's the operational leader of al Qaeda any more," said John Grant. "I think he's just a figurehead and can't really make too many decisions that will effect us."

Counterterrorism experts say they've got no good information that any attacks on the US are really coming, and bin Laden may simply be trying to reassert some semblance of control over al Qaeda.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

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