TERRORISM: His message is anti-capitalism, and he tells Americans to convert to Islam. By Lee Keath THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CAIRO, Egypt – Osama bin Laden’s first appearance in three years in a new videotape has U.S. counterterrorism officials and experts poring over the details for clues to his health and hints of new threats. “He wants to demonstrate that he is alive and well and dispel any rumors that he may have died and is ill,” said Mark Ensalaco, a terrorism expert at the University of Dayton. “His voice is the adrenaline of the mujahedeen; he wants a propaganda victory. He is trying to say: `You have not defeated me. I am winning. You are losing in Iraq, and my appearance is proof of my victory,”‘ Ensalaco told The Associated Press. The video appeared to have been recently made. Bin Laden seems up to date on current events, mentioning global warming and Americans’ mortgage woes. The United States intercepted the video before it was released on Islamic Web sites where al-Qaida usually posts its messages, a U.S. counterterrorism official said. Intelligence agencies had studied the video for hours before transcripts and videos were leaked, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Analysts were studying bin Laden’s physical characteristics for clues about his health after unconfirmed rumors earlier this year that he had died of kidney disease, the official said. In the video, the 50-year-old bin Laden speaks softly, as he usually does. His trimmed beard is shorter than in his last video, in 2004, and is fully black – apparently dyed, since in past videos it was mostly gray. Bin Laden is believed to have avoided appearing in videos for security reasons. He has not released new footage since October 2004, and he had not put out an audiotape in more than a year, his longest period without a message. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!In the 26-minute video released Friday, bin Laden gives no easy answers. His voice is soft but firm. He has bags under his eyes, but his appearance dissolved rumors that he had died. Instead of threatening attacks, he delivers a bitter lecture to the U.S. public. He derides President Bush, tells Americans the Iraq war has failed and urges them to turn away from capitalism and democracy and convert to Islam. “It’s important that we show resolve and determination to protect ourselves, deny al-Qaida safe havens,” Bush said while in Australia for a summit of Pacific Rim nations. Bin Laden’s emergence near the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks was calculated to make a splash, underlining the American failure to catch him at a time when experts say al-Qaida’s top leadership is regrouping in the lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.
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