CAIRO — Osama bin Laden sought to draw a wider public into his fight against the United States in a new message Friday, dropping his usual talk of holy war and focusing instead on an unexpected topic: global warming.
The al-Qaida leader blamed the United States and other industrialized nations for climate change and said the only way to prevent disaster was to break the American economy, calling on the world to boycott U.S. goods and stop using the dollar.
“The effects of global warming have touched every continent. Drought and deserts are spreading, while from the other floods and hurricanes unseen before the previous decades have now become frequent,” bin Laden said in the audiotape, aired on the Arab TV network Al-Jazeera.
The terror leader noted Washington’s rejection of the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing greenhouse gases and painted the United States as in the thrall of major corporations that he said “are the true criminals against the global climate” and are to blame for the global economic crisis, driving “tens of millions into poverty and unemployment.”
Bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders have mentioned global warming and struck an anti-globalization tone in previous tapes and videos. But the latest was the first message by bin Laden solely dedicated to the topic. It was also nearly entirely empty of the Islamic militant rhetoric that usually fills his declarations.
The change in rhetoric aims to give al-Qaida’s message an appeal beyond hardcore Islamic militants, said Evan Kohlmann, of globalterroralert.com, a private, U.S.-based terrorism analysis group.
“It’s a bridge issue,” Kohlmann said. “They are looking to appeal to people who don’t necessarily love al-Qaida but who are angry at the U.S. and the West, to galvanize them against the West” and make them more receptive to “alternative solutions like adopting violence for the cause.”
To stop global warming, Bin Laden called for the “wheels of the American economy” to be brought to a halt. “This is possible … if the peoples of the world stop consuming American goods.”