International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

Commentary from ...
Middle East
East Asia
South Asia
Western Hemisphere
October 10, 2001


Commentators around the globe found Usama bin Laden's videotape address on Al Jazeera TV following the first military strikes


Commentators around the globe found Usama bin Laden's videotape address on Al Jazeera TV following the first military strikes in Afghanistan, "chilling," "disturbing" and essentially an implicit confession of his responsibility the September 11 attacks and an indictment of the al Qaida network.  UBL's call for all Muslims to join him in a "jihad" against the West, threats of more terrorism, "misuse" of the Palestinian struggle, and pledge to divide the world into two camps was widely condemned in all corners.  A majority--including former skeptics mostly in the Arab and Muslim media--agreed that the tape had removed any ambiguity concerning who was the "central financier and mastermind" behind the attacks, and in effect "authorized" U.S. military action.  While some Arab media quickly denounced bin Laden's statement, observers in Europe and elsewhere implored the Muslim mainstream to "unequivocally reject" bin Laden as an "affront to their great religion."  Regional highlights follow:


ARAB-MUSLIM VIEWS:  UBL's message appeared to have alienated some of the moderate, independent, and pro-government Arab press, which prior to the strikes in Afghanistan had demanded proof of guilt to justify Islamic leaders' joining the U.S.-led alliance against terrorism.  After his appearance on Al Jazeera, writers expressed dismay that bin Laden had excused the U.S. from having to provide proof of his culpability, and many were admittedly "saddened" and "embarrassed" by his performance.  Writers in Egypt were especially upset that bin Laden had tainted Islam with crimes that "have nothing to do with Islam."  Papers in the West Bank, Lebanon and Kuwait and Pakistan cast him as a hypocrite for suddenly invoking the Palestinian cause to justify "unacceptable acts."  Others compared his modus operandi with those of Saddam Hussein.  And rather than galvanizing support for his anti-West mission, his message espousing terrorism may have served to bolster justification for the U.S. strikes, as Kuwait's independent Al-Watan admitted, "there was no choice left for America...except the military option."


EUROPE:  Commentators did not underestimate bin Laden's ability to manipulate the media to and worried that he might be gaining ground in the propaganda war as well as acquiring "folk hero" and "mythic status among Arabs."  Many joined London's liberal Guardian in denouncing bin Laden's "disingenuous" efforts to "link his evil cause with that of Palestine."


ELSEWHERE:  Observers from Australia to Zambia found UBL's statements alarming and divisive, and worried that his rhetoric had opened a "new and dangerous stage in the fight against terror," which would fuel anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world.  Most agreed that that Bin Laden had "discredited" those complaining about U.S. "hasty military retaliation."


EDITOR: Irene Marr

EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey is based on  62  reports from  31 countries, October 8-10.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




EGYPT:   "Bin Laden Has Decided"


Senior columnist Salah Montasser wrote in leading moderate pro-government Al Ahram (10/10): ”Bin Laden appears to be a hero in the eyes of those who perceive him with good intentions, yet he has rewarded the United States twice.  Once when he gave it a chance to parade its power and force its new world order, and the results of this will appear in the near future.  The second time is when he excused the United States from having to present any evidence that proves that bin Laden is behind the attack.  But worse than that is that bin Laden tried to give his crime an Islamic fatade that is not true and has nothing to do with Islam.  He tried to divide the world.… It is sad that bin Laden is trying to make Muslims look like terrorists while the American President Bush is trying to defend Muslims.”


"What Did Bin Laden Do?"


Senior columnist Nabil Zaki in leftist opposition weekly Ahaly (10/10) wrote that although many commentators tried to say that America should not rush and accuse the Arabs and Muslims, bin laden has implicitly admited that he is behind the Sept 11th attacks: “He saved America from charging ahead without having any evidence.  Many must have asked themselves the question:  Why did he not attack the Israelis?  Was not this more useful than exploding embassies here or there?”


“Good Morning”


Senior columnist Said Sonbol wrote in moderate, pro-government Al Akhbar (10\9): ”And despite bin Laden's failure to confess frankly responsibility for the attacks or his relationship to the perpetrators, still his describing them as a group of Muslim pioneers is telling.  t rules out Serbs, the drug mafia, American rightists, the Israeli Mossad, the Japanese Red Army from planning and executing of this operation. And this was the wide-spread assumption in Arab circles until last Sunday (time of the bin Laden taped Al Jazeera interview.)”


"How And When Will The War End?”


Political analyst Abd Ati Mohamed stated in leading, pro-government Al Ahram wrote(10\9): “Bin Laden wanted to turn an erroneous characterization of the war when he spoke via the TV satellite channel Al Jazeera to the Muslim World and called for a 'jihad' (i.e. holy struggle) against the West and retracted a previous denial of responsibility for the Sept 11 attacks.  He returned to defend terror acts and, indeed his speech was nearly an open confession he and his Al Qaeda are behind the events putting an end to any hesitancy of those persistantly calling for evidence of his responsibility.”


JORDAN:  "A Confession Is The Most Conclusive Piece Of Evidence"


Leading columnist Fahed Al-Fanek wrote in semi-official influential Arabic daily Al-Ra’i on October 9: “Proof of guilt was required and necessary to justify Arab and Islamic countries’ joining the alliance that was championed by the U.S. to fight terrorism.   Statements made so far lacked credibility because they came from sources that had taken a prior position, and that were expected to make such statements. It was our right to see the evidence in order to make it clear that we were entering into an alliance against a terrorist organization and a regime that supports terrorism, not against a specific Arab party or a certain civilization.  Now Usama Bin Laden’s speech, aired by Al-Jazira, affirmed implicitly that he was the perpetrator and so eliminated the need for further evidence.”



KUWAIT:  "Americans--Shivering In Their Boots"


Columnist Hashim Karar wrote in semi-independent Arabic-language Al-Watan (10/9): "When CNN aired bin Laden's last tape, the CNN anchorman said, 'We have just spent shivering moments.'  Shivering was the right word.  The CNN presenter exactly described Americans feelings towards bin Laden.  UBL's message was simple and clear.  He said that the Americans will not live in peace as long as the Palestinians live under the Israeli occupation and as long as the U.S. military troops are stationed in the Arabian peninsula.  UBL's message is the same message that most Muslims want to deliver.  Killing bin Laden does not mean that the message will die. September 11 was a date that will change history, and bin Laden's message was the first page of a new geopolitical chapter."


"The Engineering Graduate Is Ignorant"


Fouad Al-Hashem wrote in independent Al-Watan (10/9): "Many crimes are committed in the name of (defending) Palestine....  Bin Laden is following in Saddam Hussein's footsteps; although he (Bin Laden) is an engineering graduate, he forgot that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  Instead of directing his efforts and his 'Qaeda' to fighting Israel, Bin Laden directs his efforts against the United States because he believes that the road to Jerusalem passes through Washington and New York.  This is just like the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, who thought that the path to Jerusalem passes through Kuwait."


"The Confession"


Liberal Faisal Al-Qanaie, Secretary General of the Kuwait Journalists Association, wrote in independent Al-Seyassa (10/9):  "Bin Laden's confession to his direct link to the terrorist attacks embarrassed his supporters who...were defending him using the excuse that America was trying to frame Muslims and Islam.  Furthermore, he has threatened to (wage) more terrorist operations against America and those who live there, thus disregarding that there are at least ten million Muslims who live in America and Europe."


"The Noble Eagle And Kuwaiti Wisdom"


Independent Al-Watan's editorial commented (10/8):  "No one can deny the pain we feel as Muslims when we watch the ongoing events [American strikes against Afghanistan.]  What alleviates our pain, however, is that these events may in the end benefit Muslims and Islam, and redeem our lost pride and reputation.  Bin Laden's implied confession also helps in easing our pain.  Bin Laden's blessings for the attacks waged against America and his assertion that they were undertaken by a distinguished group of Muslims indicate his responsibility for organizing the attacks....  This confession proves that these people chose terrorism as their path.  Therefore, there was no choice left for America, the wounded lion, except the military option as a means of regaining its self-confidence and taking revenge for the innocent lives who perished in the attacks."


LEBANON:  Media Treatment


All television stations interrupted their regular programming to update their viewers on breaking news drawing their updates either from CNN or Al-Jazeera Satellite TV.  All television stations stopped their programming and telecast Al-Jazeera's tape of Bin Laden's remarks....  Bin Laden was repeatedly discussed, with most analysts agreeing that his remarks were "chilling" and conceding that he "could be, after all, responsible for the attacks on September 11."  Bin Laden's remarks received equal if not greater attention than the actual attacks on Afghanistan.  Most newspapers had Bin Laden's photo plastered on the front-page, with some headlining excerpts of his remarks--particularly his vow that there would be no security in America without security in Palestine.  Lead reports gave detailed accounts of the targets that were shelled in Afghanistan, but many editorialists "targeted" Bin Laden and were sharply critical of his remarks.




Faisal Salman wrote in Arab nationalist As-Safir (10/9):  "I listened yesterday to Bin Laden's remarks...and I confess that I felt very sad....  I had hoped that Bin Laden was not responsible for the attacks which killed thousands of innocent people, however, he hinted in his remarks that he was indeed responsible....  Bin Laden...linked security in the United States to security in Palestine.  I confess that this is the first time I heard Bin Laden talk about Palestine....  Why doesn't Bin Laden fight the Israelis themselves instead of attacking American embassies here and there?...  Before these remarks, Bin Laden was innocent.  However, now he is condemned.  How can he expect support from Muslims, and what kind of Jihad is he calling for?"


"Bin Laden's Palestine"


Sahar Baasiri held in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (10/9):  "Suddenly, Bin Laden emerged with a Palestinian face.  Palestine became his cause and the reason for his activity.  He even swore that America and whoever lives in America would not dream of peace before it became a reality in Palestine....  We know that Bin Laden had a problem with the foreign armies deployed in the Gulf and the regimes that allowed these armies to be deployed....  We know that he had worked with the United States in the past but was disappointed.  We also know that Palestine was never his problem or his cause....  We saw this same scene ten years ago when Saddam wore the face of Palestine following his attack on Kuwait....  Palestine's problem with people like Saddam and Bin Laden is that they kill it twice: they killed it before by ignoring it, and they are killing it again by using it to justify their unacceptable acts."


WEST BANK:  "Palestine, The Last Resort"


Saleh Al-Shayji wrote in independent Al-Anba (10/10):  "Amidst Bin Laden's preoccupation with fighting the 'infidels,' he forgot about Palestine.  When he felt the noose tightening around his neck, however, he suddenly remembered Palestine that was not previously included on his agenda."


Media Treatment


The military strikes against Afghanistan dominated the Palestinian press (10/9). The press also highlighted the statement of the Palestinian Minister of Information, Yasser Abed Rabbo, that the Palestinians refuse the attempt of Osama Bin Laden to link the Palestinian issue to the terrorist attacks against the U.S.. Major articles and editorials refused to accept the link that Bin Laden made between the terrorist attacks against the U.S. and the Palestinian issue.


"Misuse Of The Palestinian Issue"


Hani Al-Masri opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (10/9):  "While the Palestinian people are touched by the statement of Bin Laden that the U.S. will not enjoy security until the Palestinian people enjoy it, they remember the failure of some countries who tried to use the Palestine problem when they [these countries] were endangered or at war.  These countries should have made the Palestinian issue a priority prior to their hardships.  We have the right to consider that a misuse of the Palestinian issue.  Such countries and parties will only refer to the Palestinian issue when they think that it is a sure way to win sympathy from the Arabs and Muslims, who still consider the Palestinian issue the core issue of their countries and people....  To support the American Administration in its effort to form an international coalition against Taliban and al-Qaida does not serve Islam or the core issue of the Arabs and Muslims, which is the Palestinian issue."







BRITAIN:  "Bush, Blair Have Already Lost War Of Words Across Middle East"


Robert Fisk observed in the centrist Independent (10/10):  "Bush and Blair may tell the world they are going to win the 'war against terrorism' but in the Middle East, where Osama bin Laden is acquiring almost mythic status among Arabs, they have already lost....  Bin Laden's voice, repeatedly beamed into millions of homes, articulates the demands and grievances--and fury--of Middle East Muslims who have seen their pro-Western presidents and kings and princes wriggling of any serious criticism of the Anglo-American bombardment of Afghanistan.  Viewing Mr. bin Laden's latest video tape, Western nations concentrated (if they listened at all) on his remarks about the atrocities in the United States....  Arabs listened with different ears.  They heard a voice which accused the West of double standards and 'arrogance' towards the Middle East, a voice which addressed the central issue in the lives of so many Arabs: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the continuation of Israeli occupation."


"The War Bin Laden Has Already Won"


From an opinion piece by Jonathan Freedland in the liberal Guardian (10/10):  "Just days into this conflict, a dread thought surfaces:  what if Osama bin Laden is winning this war? The television pictures tell the opposite story. He is the frail man relying on a stick, hunted quarry chased into a cave. Ranged against him are the mightiest forces in the world, a superpower wielding multi-billion dollar weaponry, backed by a string of wealthy, well-equipped allies?  Surely, as Tony Blair told the world via the Labour party conference last week, 'This is a battle with only one outcome:  our victory, not theirs'.  That would be true if this was an ordinary war, the kind between states... The differences are obvious:  Bin Laden is a leader without a country....  For this war's defining characteristic is the centrality of propaganda.  What are clashing here are not two armies, but two arguments.... The lead rhetorical advocate has been Tony Blair, who this week took his message to the Arab world directly via an interview with the suddenly-hot satellite TV channel, al-Jazeera. Bin Laden has been no less eloquent, presenting his case via that same TV station on the very night the bombing began... Bin Laden may be an evil terrorist, but he's clearly read the Clinton-Blair book of rapid rebuttal...


"The question immediately becomes:  which version is prevailing among the people that matter - the people of the Arab and Muslim world?  London and Washington insist that Arab and Muslim governments accept their view that the object of the current onslaught is the Taliban and al-Qaida and no one else.  But the people of the Muslim 'street' do not seem to see it that way.  The intensity of street-level reaction has exposed a glaring hole in the western coalition's case, the same hole that lay at the center of the debate that raged here and in America after September 11 on the 'clash of civilizations' theory pushed by Harvard professor Samuel Huntington.  To trash the idea, Blair and others constantly said the west has no grievance with Islam.  But they never pushed to wonder how Islam felt about the west."


"The Darkest Hour Of Islam--Bin Laden Is Winning Propaganda War"


The liberal Guardian argued (10/9):  "Of all the time pressures facing Washington and its allies, the daily, upward advancement of Bin Laden towards folk-hero status in the Muslim world is perhaps the most alarming.  In political terms, his video disingenuously linking his evil cause with that of Palestine was as potentially devastating as the high-explosive bombs that accompanied its skillfully timed release.  This was in effect the opposition's reply to George Bush's address to Congress and Tony Blair's speech in Brighton--every bit as ambitious and far more dramatic....  Bin Laden's coolly defiant rallying cry will reverberate through an Arab world weary of America's perceived double standards.  Bin Laden is in danger of becoming the dark star of Islam.  He is closer now than ever to provoking the war of civilizations that is his life's warped ambition....  Defeating, debunking and demystifying Bin Laden remains this conflict's most urgent priority--and the clock on the time bomb is ticking."


FRANCE:  "About Certain Silences"


Left-of-center Le Monde's editorial read (10/10):  "Granted that Islam does not have a single representative or spokesperson.  This is why we cannot expect an authorized reaction to Bin Laden's televised message for a Jihad against 'Americans,' 'Jews' and all 'infidels.'  But considering what we know about the author, it is fair to say that it was the equivalent of a call for indiscriminate blind violence, which is against the rules of Islam.  Yet we are still waiting for public unequivocal condemnation of this message from religious Muslim authorities....  Muslim intellectuals are not speaking up either....  Both are failing their obligation.  As for Arab regimes, they feel too insecure and have kept silent as well....  No one dares to speak up in favor of the attacks against the Taliban and Bin Laden....  In short, everyone is opting for reserve....  The Arab world is uncomfortable with operation 'Enduring Freedom.'  Political regimes feel threatened and the public feels misunderstood. Faced with this dangerous situation, Tony Blair wisely chose the same media as Bin Laden to answer back and repeat that the West is not fighting against Islam.  That we must not fall into the trap set by Bin Laden of a war between civilizations."


"A Long War"


Charles Lambroschini held in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/9): "The war that has begun will be a long one....  The televised message sent to America by Bin Laden is proof of a specific strategy....  While George Bush distinguishes within Islam between those who are tolerant and those who are extremists, Bin laden is calling for a deadly war against all infidels....  Bin Laden can strike where and when he wants: his targets are as numerous as there are nations in the coalition... The list of nations that must be punished is limitless."


"The Evidence And The Targets"


Left-of-center Le Monde in its editorial (10/9): "The evidence against Bin Laden was ratified by Bin Laden himself."


"The Trap"


Pierre Laurent in communist L'Humanite (10/9): "Just when Bin Laden's threats stand as criminal evidence of the type of confrontation he would like to see the world fall into, we must not let any initiative we embark on give the impression this is a battle between North and South.  This would be falling into his trap."


GERMANY: "Bin Laden's War"


Stefan Kornelius judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (10/9):  "The reaction of the Taliban and the bin Laden group to the military strikes shows the future ideological and propaganda frontlines.  Since the number of military targets in Afghanistan is small...the success in the controversy with terrorism will have to be measured with different yardsticks....  It will be much more important to refute bin Laden's rhetoric than destroying a few air-defense positions of the Taliban.  For the Western world and for the United States, bin Laden's arguments are less dangerous, because they are able to look behind the propagandistic value of his message, but in the Islamic world, his arguments, in combination with bombs and missiles, develop a dangerous effect.  That is why we cannot convey one message often enough to this Islamic world:  bin Laden is no Robin Hood, because he remained silent a year ago when the Palestinians rejected the most comprehensive peace draft of all times.  Bin Laden does not fight for children and women because he, otherwise, should also criticize Saddam Hussein and his corrupt surrounding because of embezzlement and suppression.  Bin Laden himself is a suppressor, and he represents a terrorist- theocratic ruling system and bin Laden is no Islamic freedom fighter, but an Islamic terrorist, something which all Arab nations in the coalition against terrorism know and want to see eliminated."


"The Right Person"


Jochen Siemens noted in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (10/9):  "Since Sunday we know that the attacks are targeted at the right person.  Bin Laden's commitments to the terrorist attacks in the United States and his future threats have overtaken the search for evidence.  Bin Laden controls his terrorist network from Afghanistan and the Taliban allow him to do so.  That is why it has now become a goal of this war to oust the Taliban, but it will be much more difficult to capture bin Laden or to destroy his terrorist network.'


ITALY:  "'To Pound Kandahar' Is The Political Goal"


A report from Islamabad in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (10/10): "Time plays into the hands of Usama bin Laden....  If he is not found soon, and possibly captured alive, large sectors of the Middle East and Asian youth will have identified their own Che Guevara, and perhaps found an inspiration for an Islamic '68."


“Arafat’s Choice”


Siegmund Ginzberg commented in pro-Democratic Left party (DS) L’Unita’ (10/10): “Arafat’s decision to let his police shoot against Hamas demonstrators in Gaza is one of the most significant developments over the last few hours, even more significant than his decision to donate blood for the victims of the New York attacks…. A decision that may cost him his life, according to some.  But it is a precise choice, with consequences that may be decisive.  In a way, it is also a response to Usama bin Laden who, in his first video message after the beginning of military operations in Afghanistan, identified his own cause with that of the Palestinians and the Iraqis.  Saddam Hussein gave [UBL] a free hand, while Arafat has chosen to deny it this time.”


"This Is Just The Beginning"


Deputy Managing Editor Gianni Riotta comments on the front page of centrist, influential La Stampa (10/8): "The West must eradicate--not only from bin Laden but also from all fundamentalist leaders--the propaganda alibi, especially that of being the alleged defender of the Palestinians.  A rapid and rational American mediation between Israel and Arafat would, indeed, deprive the Al-Qaeda of the weapon that it often waves to move the Arab people."


RUSSIA:  "Let Him Speak"


Stanislav Bychkov and Vladimir Dunayev wrote in the reformist Izvestiya (10/8):  "Bin Laden and his followers can't win an open battle against civilization."


ALBANIA:   "The battle of civilizations"


Top-circulation centrist Shekulli in its op-ed piece (10/10):  "In his latest TV appearance, Bin Laden was clear about the motives of this bloody crusade. First and foremost, the religion is on the first place. Not simply understood as belonging to a specific religion, but as a distinguished trait of a defined community that differs from "non believers."  For Christians, Buddhists etc., Bin Laden and his people represent a trend clearly distinguished from the Arab world, they pretend the right of war against every human being that does not embrace Islam.  This extreme form of experiencing faith would not be so menacing if bin Laden and tens of other groups and cells around the world would not use terrorism as the main tool for achieving their goals. The current risk is that this movement, which has witnessed growth even in moderate Muslim nations, could expand to the dimensions of a global insurgency against the West and especially the US, as the symbolic country of Western values. Apparently, this is the final goal of Bin Laden, to incite a revolution that would mark a hopeless conflict for the entire humanity."


"The Incubus Of War Has Started"


Top-circulation centrist Shekulli said (10/9):  "A few hours after the launch of the first missile on Kabul, all media outlets aired the declaration of the Saudi Prince, whose name, Osama bin Laden, is as well known as that of the US President. Although he has very good knowledge of English, he spoke in the Arab language. This means that through that declaration, he communicated in the most direct way with 1,300,000,000 Muslims of the world, whom he invited to participate in a Jihad."


"The World After American Missiles"


Medium-circulation independent Korrieri (10/9) carried a front-page op-ed by the former Head of the Foreign Relations Parliamentary Commission, Sabri Godo:  "Bin Laden proclaimed himself as the leader of the Islamic holy war, lifting the Palestinian flag, which he was not reminded of before."


"Bin Laden's Enemy Declaration"


An op-ed in Dita observed (10/9): "The head of the world terrorists Osama Bin Laden appeared on TV just after the attacks on the Taliban regime and terrorist camps in Afghanistan. The moment of airing Bin Laden was calculated in such a way that it presented Bin Laden as a hero and probably as a leader of the Arab-Islamic world.  To this end, the Palestinian cause was presented as a justification for the terrorist attacks and as a Pan-Islamic promise against the US. Bin Laden's move was the right one in terms of media coverage.  In no other way, could he have talked to so many people throughout the world. But there are no chances that this criminal can politically survive and start a world war between Muslims and Christians. When the American TVs aired Bin Laden's interview, the US Administration invited its citizens to follow the message. Free countries do not conceal enemies' declarations. On the contrary, these declarations put an emphasis on the decision of these countries to undertake the attack. Bin Laden's statement on the systematic exploitation of Muslims in the US is speculative and every normal human being realizes this."


BELGIUM:  "Bin Laden Cornered"


Diplomatic correspondent Mia Doornaert in independent Catholic De Standaard (10/9):  "Bin Laden cares about the Palestinians as little as Saddam Hussein did when he tried to capture Kuwait's oil wealth ten years ago.  Now that he feels cornered, however, (bin Laden) speaks about the Palestinian cause - like Saddam did.  In that manner he is scoring points in two fields.  In the Arab world, success is assured and such a powerful slogan - which turns the United States and not the terrorists into the guilty party - is swallowed by Western media and all kinds of movements without any problem.  Every war is a communications war. It does not suffice to try to achieve a just cause, you must also be able to sell it....  The United States should not entertain any illusions (about the opinion of) the masses in the Arab and Muslim world.  The latter if flooded with too much propaganda of hatred against America and the West by their media or regimes (to entertain such illusions.)  And even though bin Laden's campaign of terror is not aimed at the defense of the Palestinians, the issue is extremely sensitive in the Arab world."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "It Isn't Working for the Present"


The right-of-center daily Lidove noviny's main commentator Petr Fischer notes (10/9): "Osama bin Laden's threatening proclamation flew through global info-network shortly afterwards the first American and British missiles had appeared over Kabul. ...Bin Laden and Taliban know very well that political and religious propaganda has a chance to corrode anti-terrorist coalition and break allies' military dominance. ...Yesterday's demonstration in Gaza and Pakistan show that propaganda doesn't work ...for the present.  The longer conflict in Afghanistan will last, the bigger anti-American feelings in Muslim countries will grow."


GREECE:  "Back to the Middle Ages"


The lead editorial in popular, influential and anti-American Eleftherotypia (10/8) said:  "Usama Bin Laden offered US leadership a justification for that through the September 11 attack.  Now, with the war against Afghanistan the US is reciprocating the gift.  The US has given the Taliban arguments to launch a holy war.  Unfortunately, contrary to warnings of logical thinkers, the 'logic' of war has prevailed and humanity crossed over the threshold of a madhouse.   Bin Laden's holy war and his religious war sermon serve as an attestation to that."




Writing in pro-government influential To Vima (10/9) chief editor Vasilis Moulopoulos said:  "Bush and Blair started a war and promised a triumph of Good....   This promise is as terrorizing as Bin Laden's that 'we will no longer sleep in peace.'  Let's hope that logic will prevail.  Let's hope that weapons will be replaced by politics and diplomacy."


HUNGARY:  "Bin Laden's Response"


Foreign editor Miklos Ujvari editorialized in influential, left leaning Magyar Hirlap (10/8) that  "The biggest irony of this age is that Osama bin Laden , indirectly  through the local Qatar TV, called on the world's Muslim via CNN, an American TV station, not to leave yesterday's U.S. strike without a  response.  The question arises:  What comes next?  Will the world be made  safer by the anticipated fall of the Taliban and by the capture of bin  Laden 'dead or alive'?"


THE NETHERLANDS:   "The Risk Of A Dichotomy"


Left-of-center Trouw notes in its editorial (10/9):  "Osama bin Laden is a formidable enemy.  He and his network will do everything possible to convince the Islamic world that this is a war against Islam and the Muslim world.... It is of great importance that moderate leaders in the Islamic world, both religious and political, openly distance themselves from the idea that this is a war against Islam.  It is of equal importance that governments and the people in the Western world make sure that the Islamic communities in their countries are not identified with whatever terrorist organization what so ever."


NORWAY:  "A War Against Terrorism Or A New Religious War?"


In the newspaper of record Aftenposten (10/9) Foreign Affairs Editor Nils Morten Udgaard commented:  "If Bush should win it will be decisive that he avoid sliding into a purely religious war, a clash of civilizations, but manage to play on ordinary human disgust over the death by terrorism of fellow human beings....  He must ally himself with these feelings, against an Osama bin Laden who obviously wishes to drag him into a war between Islam and Christianity. This war is not far away, when both--as they in different ways did on Sunday--appeal on TV to their God."


"The World In A Time Of War"


In social democratic Dagsavisen (10/9) Foreign Affairs Editor Erik Sagflaat commented:  "Putting Osama bin Laden and his closest advisors and planners out of commission is obviously necessary.  His attempt to turn the war against terrorism into a war between orthodox Muslims and infidels, is a call to cultural war that we in all cases must avoid.  This declaration of war from bin Laden might have serious consequences for Muslims who live in western countries, and who unfortunately increasingly are meeting distrust and repugnance. In this way bin Laden has also become the Muslims' worst enemy."




PORTUGAL:  "The Inevitable Attack"


Editorial by editor-in-chief JosT Manuel Fernandes in influential center-left Público (10/8): "Setting off [military] operations demands both courage and determination, especially since simultaneously there is a propaganda battle to be won.....  On a par with ground operations, this is the most difficult battle of the coming days and weeks, perhaps of the coming months and years."


"Enduring Freedom"


Editorial by editor-in-chief Mário Bettencourt Resendes in respected moderate-left Diário de Notfcias (10/9): "Anyone who might have had any doubts about Ben Laden's innocence should have been sufficiently enlightened by yesterday's interview."


"War Against Terrorism"


Nicolau Santos in the October 9 on-line edition of top-circulation center-left weekly Expresso (10/9):  "Osama is a leader of great intelligence.   He proved it yesterday, in the interview broadcast by a local television, made after the September 11 attacks in which he supported the action and appealed to the Islamic world to combat the infidels, lead by the United States, adding that it would not have peace as long as the Palestinian question remained unresolved. He thus placed the debate on the political plane, to justify the aggression against the United States with the unresolved Palestinian question....  And he added the religious appeal to which all fundamentalists are vulnerable, to gain the greatest amount of sympathy for his cause.  Thus it is not enough for the United States and its allies to defeat terrorism by force of arms.  It has to defeat it also by demonstrating to all the world that our values...of democracy, of liberty, equality, toerance, and respect for different creeds, races, and genders,  are essential to social, educational, scientific and technological progress...  Winning this battle is even more essential than winning the battle that was joined yesterday -- because it is the one that will impede the appearance of new Bin Ladens and the expansion of global terrorism."


"War And Propaganda"


Editorial by JosT Manuel Fernandes in influential center-left Público (10/9):  "If it is customary to say that, in war, truth is the first casualty, the truth is that, in the last wars undertaken by the United States and NATO (in the Gulf, and Kosovo), there was always, in the media of the democracies, the possibility of finding the truth....  For this reason, masters of propaganda like Saddam and Milosevic, so often presented as victors in this crucial battle, end up in losing it.  The same will happen to Bin Laden."


ROMANIA:  "Listening To Bin Laden''


Intellectual weekly 22 had this by Gabriela Adamesteanu (10/10):  "Listening to bin Laden's message, those who had shown their approval that thousands of civilians (the international elite of business in the WTC, and the passengers of the sacrificed planes) were pulverized and burned while they were starting their normal work day, is the Americans' preoccupation (responsible for) the fate of hundreds of thousands (millions, soon) of Afghan refugees."


SLOVENIA:   "Terrorism And Humanism"


Left-of-center Vecer (10/9) opined: "Bush and Bin Laden are similar in a way. Both of them speak about retaliatory actions, blows, and revenge and demand that allies be with them... Both of them speak about a holly war - or holy rage, it does not matter - pride ... personal belief which they do not allow to be taken away. In their story, terrorism has already won. ... Mankind is its hostage."


SPAIN:  "Enduring Freedom"


Conservative ABC commented (10/8): "If  more evidence was needed, Bin Laden himself admitted to being the author  of the crime....  This is not a conflict or clash between civilizations, but a  legitimate war against terrorism....  The war against terrorism cannot be  won without a victory in the battle of Western public opinion.  It is more  than likely that pacifists will protest."


TURKEY:  “Grounds For War”


Ismet Berkan wrote in intellectual Radikal (10/8):  “Last night, bin Ladin on Al Jazeera TV claimed responsibility for September 11 attacks, and threatened U.S. and its allies with new attacks.  It is senseless to question legitimacy of the U.S., UK military operation, for we have a crime, a criminal openly admitting his offense, and an oppressive, backwards regime that shelters that criminal.”




AUSTRALIA:  "Islam's Chance To Reassert Its Core Values”


An editorial in the national, conservative Australian (10/10) warned: “The language of bin Laden's chilling videotape address had a bizarre medieval ring to it. The division of the world into two camps--believers and non-believers--recalled the Crusades and other great religious conflicts of the past.  It sits uncomfortably with what we have been hearing constantly since September 11, from George W. Bush and others--that this is not a religious battle but a war against terrorism.  Bin Laden's attempt to redefine the terms of this conflict signals a new and dangerous stage in the fight against terror....  It raises the stakes in the war against terrorism, and shows that the battle must be waged on two levels....  Mr Bush and his supporters have been careful to distinguish between those who blaspheme Allah by murdering innocent people, and the majority of peace-loving Muslims.  But now the time has come for the vast Muslim mainstream, in government and clerical circles, both within and outside Muslim countries, to unequivocally reject the bin Laden mission as an affront to their great religion....  Muslims everywhere can help to ensure that bin Laden, an unrepresentative radical, does not become the face of Islam.”




INDIA:  "Air Strikes on Afghanistan"


Mumbai-based, centrist, Marathi Navshakti editorialized (10/9):  "The U.S. attack seems to have failed to dampen the spirit of the Jihadis as was demonstrated by arrogant boasts and threats uttered by bin Laden on the Al Jazira TV in Qatar."


PAKISTAN:  "He Remembered Baghdad, But Forgot Kashmir"


Baig Raj wrotem in popular Din (10/9):  "If the truth be told, Bin Laden's speech [on Al-Jazeera TV] was very emotional.  As a Muslim, I was affected by it greatly, but as a Pakistani, I felt very bad.  Bin Laden remembered all the atrocities against Muslims.  But he forgot to mention Kashmir.  His speech was a refrain of "Arab, Arab," nowhere were the "ajamis" [non-Arabs] mentioned....  Bin Laden mentioned Palestine again and again. But if he is really interested in highlighting the Palestine issue, he could have linked himself to it.  He could have offered to surrender himself to the U.S. on condition that America supports the formation of a Palestinian state.  But he did not make any such offer.  All efforts of the Taliban have always been to protect Bin Laden, never once have the Kashmir and Palestine issues figured in their statements.  But now that they are fully trapped  by the U.S., Bin Laden has suddenly remembered Palestine.  What good qualities these Muslims have!'





CANADA: "The Skewed Call Of Osama bin Laden"


The leading Globe and Mail wrote (10/9): "Osama bin Laden has a mission. He is willing to sacrifice men, women and children, Muslim and non-Muslim, in pursuit of his goal, as his endorsement of the attacks of Sept. 11 emphasizes.  All the rest is rationalization.  If he is not stopped, he will carry on."


"A Grave Decision, Gravely Taken"


Columnist Marcus Gee wrote in the leading Globe and Mail (10/8): "[A]s dangerous as the next few weeks will be, it would be far more dangerous to do nothing. In the bin Laden network, the Western world faces a foe with no moral limits.... It would be nice if we could simply arrest Mr. bin Laden and bring him before a court of law. Sadly, it just isn't so. The terrorist leader is being harboured by a hostile outlaw regime, the Taliban, that refuses point-blank to give him up for trial. Washington and its allies used every diplomatic means to persuade the regime to change its mind. When that failed, the allies issued a clear ultimatum: Surrender Mr. bin Laden and close his camps. This failed too. That left military force....  No reasonable person enters a war with joy in his heart, even a just war against an evil as great as terrorism.... But it is a tragic paradox of life in this dangerous world that sometimes even  peace-loving nations have to make war in the cause of peace."


"Doing Our Part"


The conservative National Post commented (10/8): "As U.S. President George W. Bush stated immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks and has repeated many times since, the nations of the world can now be divided into those that support or condone the tactics of terror and those that oppose them. And though the battle lines in the war against terrorism are far fuzzier than those that separated the combatants in the Cold War or the Second World War, there is little ambiguity concerning who is the central financier and mastermind of the major terrorist attacks against Western targets in the last decade. It is Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda organization....  Messrs. Bush and Blair must be applauded for integrating humanitarian assistance into their campaign in Afghanistan. Hundreds of millions of dollars of aid has been pledged. And much of it is being delivered right now, at considerable risk to those delivering it. This risk is justified. As Mr. Bush has made plain, it is Afghanistan's Taleban regime that is our enemy, not the people of that country, who have been beaten into quiescence by decades of war. By differentiating between the government of Afghanistan and its domestic victims, the Western powers are demonstrating a regard for the sanctity of innocent life that is alien to the terrorists who attacked us on Sept. 11. This one distinction alone shows the yawning moral chasm between us and them - and the high stakes in the battle now being waged."


BRAZIL: "Bin Laden's Confessions"


Columnist Jose Neumanne commented on center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo op-ed page (10/10): "After Osama bin Laden said that America 'was attacked by God,' the U.S. no longer has the responsibility to present evidence it says to possess that the terrorist attack is linked to him.... Bin Laden himself discredited those experts who complain on TV about the U.S.'s hasty military retaliation...[bin Laden's cause] is not a legitimate Palestinian fight for a piece of land...nor a retaliation for Vietnamese children burned with napalm... as Cold War widows want us to believe... Everything is very clear: bin Laden's declared war is against those who do not believe in what he believes... Bin Laden's statement has authorized the bombings in Afghanistan."





"War May Create West-Islam Bipolarity"


Foreign Affairs commentator Jaime Spitzkovsky said in liberal Folha de Sao Paulo (10/10):  "Washington is working to build a bipolar world, with a U.S.-led anti-terror international coalition on one side, and terrorist groups and the regimes that support them on the other. There is, however, a fear that such bipolarity may bring the U.S. into opposition with another adversary: the Muslim world... Osama bin Laden has made clear that his goal is to push the world to a 'clash of civilizations,' an idea that is a nightmare for Washington and world stability....  Moscow, which fears the expansion of Islamic fundamentalism and faces Muslim separatists in Chechnya, has concluded that the anti-terror campaign may bring it more benefits than disadvantages... President Vladimir Putin expects that his courtship with the White House will result in greater economic ties... China is taking advantage of the international scene, forcing the U.S. to put aside the 'Chinese threat' to concentrate its efforts on the anti-terror fight."


"War Game"


Independent Jornal do Brasil editorialized (10/8): "On one side, President Bush stated that there can be no peace in a world of terrorism, and consequently the Taliban government is paying the price for not delivering Bin Laden.  On the other, Bin Laden put on TV to guarantee that the U.S. won't feel secure while Afghanistan doesn't feel secure.... Bin Laden's message in response to the first waves of attack is clear: He is ready to answer with terrorism, using the main weapon of terrorists--fear.  So far his appeals for a holy war against the West have been in vain as were Saddam Hussein's appeals during the Gulf War.  The Taliban, like Saddam, find themselves on the following day alone against the rest of the world." 


COLOMBIA: "War Has Broken Out"


Lead editorial in top national El Tiempo stated (10/8):  “In the recent weeks, another war has been fought to gain the support of international public opinion in the struggle against terrorism and to prevent the struggle from [being perceived as] a fight between religions or civilizations, or [a xenophobic reaction against Muslims].  The latest, unexpected turn in the diplomatic war...were Bin Laden’s remarks that supported Washington’s determination that the Al Qaeda leader was responsible of the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.... For now, we can say the initial strikes have been cautious and focused on military targets.  Not  surprisingly, these initial actions are within the control of the U.S. and its allies.  But no one knows what unexpected turn events may take in the future.”                                                                                                                                                                    

GUATEMALA: "In Trust There Is Danger"


Editor Oscar Clemente Marroquin wrote in conservative, anti-American Guatemala City afternoon La Hora (10/9): "In the United States and the entire world we are waiting for a terrorist attack at any moment and, in fact, the terrorists have achieved their principal objective, which is to frighten the peaceful citizens in every corner of the world. Listening again and again to bin Laden's statements on television after the first American bombing of Afghanistan, I think his fundamental objective is to destroy the tranquility of the U.S. population and oblige them to live in panic. Moreover, it is possible that in keeping with terrorist strategy, those in charge of carrying out some kind of attack will lie low for days, maybe weeks, waiting until little by little confidence returns and some of the strongest security measures that have been adopted lately...are relaxed...even if there is no attack in the coming days, the terrorists in a way have already imposed their law on U.S. territory....  As strict as the security measures are, the situation continues to be serious and sensitive, given that the threat of terrorism was brutal and frontal. Furthermore, it is presumed that whoever planned the attack knew exactly what the U.S. reaction would be and, in turn, prepared their own reaction...their attacks will be much more deadly to the extent that there has been a recovery of confidence and relaxation of security measures."


"Bin Laden in Guatemala"


In influential El Periodico, columnist Gustavo Berganza commented (10/9): "The greatest achievement that can be attributed to Bin Laden is not so much having demonstrated how defenseless we are against terrorism, but having brought into the open the human tendency to simplify reality in terms of good and evil, black and white, friend and enemy...prevalent in the condemnation of those who made violence and suicide their reason for being is the certainty that only the Muslim world could have produced such creatures...Islam, terrorism, backwardness, and barbarism are synonyms today. And there exists the conviction that the deployment of forces against Afghanistan must be supported because it is in defense of the Judeo-Christian, democratic, and liberal values that Western civilization supports. As if in 'our civilization' there had not also been such representatives of beastliness as Hitler, the IRA, or Lucas Garcia! In a situation such as the current one, shaped by the bombs dropped by the powerful and the linguistic artillery fired in the media, the space for moderation and toleranc

e is reduced."


PERU: "U.S. Retaliation"


Straightforward, respected leading El Comercio editorialized(10/8):  "The world observes with concern the beginning of the U.S. military attacks against Afghanistan's Taliban regime.... It is expected that the U.S. response... supported by an international coalition....  would be a long term one...and will not stop until Osama Bin Laden is found....  The Taliban government... said that it would respond... even beyond the Afghan borders... Bin Laden himself... has threatened new terrorist attacks on the U.S... and clamored for the Islamic world to join him against the U.S.... In the face of this serious situation... the international community must look after...the protection of innocent civilians' lives...  The U.S. response was not only imminent but also justified under international law...since the attacks on New York were defined as attacks against the essence of human life, defense of human rights, democratic order and worldwide security.  However, it is also clear that the Western military retaliation must be...directed to sanctioning those responsible....  Attacking Afghan civilian targets would be reprehensible and unjust.  Military strategies must be implemented with caution."




ZAMBIA:  "Call For Jihad Is Simply Irresponsible"


The government-owned Times of Zambia commented (10/10), "What is the attempt by bin Laden and Afghanistan to internationalize the U.S. and British response to the September 11 carnage by calling upon all Muslims to rise against the two countries in a Holy War or 'jihad'.  The attacks on New York and Washington were not committed in the name of Islam but by wicked men.  To therefore attempt to get all Muslims into this fight on the pretext that it is a 'Jihad' that will make martyrs of them is simply irresponsible.  Unfortunately, the disinformation is making an impression on many Muslims as evidenced by the number of anti-U.S. demonstrations that have taken place in Pakistan, Indonesia, Palestine and other countries over bombardment of Afghanistan....  Given the...hostility against America already in place in many Moslem countries, it is a sure bet that more terrorist acts will soon be unleashed on the United States and its allies globally.  This should however not deter America and all those rendering overt and covert help in the anti-terrorism campaign from forging ahead."



This site is produced and maintained by the U.S. Department of State. Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Back To Top

blue rule
IIP Home  |  Issue Focus Home