Bin Laden claims credit for Christmas attack

BEIRUT — Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the Christmas Day attempt to blow up an American civilian jet in an audiotape broadcast Sunday on Arab television.

U.S. intelligence officials quickly raised doubts about bin Laden’s role and suggested the statement was an attempt to score propaganda points for a plot already claimed by an increasingly independent faction of his movement in Yemen.

In the clip, bin Laden said his group was behind the failed attempt allegedly carried out by Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight.

Speaking directly to President Barack Obama, the al-Qaida leader vowed to continue launching terrorist attacks against the United States as long as Washington supported what he described as Israel’s unjust treatment of Palestinians.

“From Osama to Obama: Peace upon the one who follows guidance,” he said on the tape, broadcast on the pan-Arab Al Jazeera satellite news channel, his image appearing on the screen as he spoke. “America will not dream of security until we experience it as a reality in Palestine.”

U.S. intelligence officials on Sunday did not cast doubt on the authenticity of the tape. But they expressed skepticism that bin Laden or his lieutenants, believed to be based in Pakistan, played a meaningful role in conceiving or executing the Christmas Day plot.

“Al-Qaida in Yemen takes strategic guidance from al-Qaida’s leadership in the tribal areas in Pakistan,” a U.S. intelligence official said. “But we’ve never seen indications that the senior al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan have directed tactical, day-to-day operational planning for them in Yemen. Their relationship hasn’t really functioned that way.”

No evidence has surfaced to indicate that Abdulmutallab traveled to Pakistan in preparation for the plot. Instead, U.S. spy agencies in recent weeks have had to acknowledge their failure to recognize significant clues that began to surface last year indicating a terrorist plot was taking shape in Yemen, and that the Nigerian allegedly was being groomed by al-Qaida operatives there for an attack.

U.S. officials described the message from bin Laden as an attempt to take advantage of a plot hatched by al-Qaida’s offshoot in Yemen to shore up his own reputation.

“Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was behind the failed attack on Christmas Day. That’s clear,” the U.S. intelligence official said. “So a message like this — no matter whose voice it may be — should come as no surprise.”

Talk to us

More in Local News

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers speaks to the crowd during an opening ceremony at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County executive pitches $1.66B budget

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced his proposed budget Tuesday afternoon. Public comment is slated to begin Oct. 10.

Lars Kundu wipes away tears during his sentencing Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
5 years after fatal hit and run, Lake Stevens man sentenced to prison

Lars Kundu, 28, pleaded guilty in May for the 2018 death of Chad Keeler. He was handed more than 6 years in prison Thursday.

Jamel Alexander, center, listens as a Snohomish County jury records their verdict of guilty, in the murder of Shawna Brune, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 in Everett, Washington.  Alexander was convicted in the first degree murder of Brune. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Appeals court orders new trial in Everett woman’s stomping death

Appellate judges ruled that additional evidence should have been admitted in Jamel Alexander’s trial for the murder of Shawna Brune.

Most Read