The video entitled "Message to the American People," released by the As-Sahab media branch of Al-Qaeda, features a still image of bin Laden and an audio statement, which analysts say is less strident than previous diatribes against the West, and the U.S. in particular.
“He does not give any warnings and is not seeking to justify the Sept. 11 attacks," said the Deputy Head of the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, Diaa Rashwan, a leading expert on militant groups. "For the first time, he didn't mention or praise as martyrs the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks," he said.
The latest bin Laden audio, he noted, was released three weeks after Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, spoke about the situation in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. "All this clearly demonstrates that Al-Qaeda is being affected by developments on the ground," said Rashwan.
Theodore Karacic, head of research and development for the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA), said bin Laden’s statement contains “too much bluster. [He] does not put any emphasis on action... his comment is a political statement rather than a dire warning," Karacic said in Dubai.
Saudi analyst Anwar Eshki, head of the Middle East Centre for Strategic Studies in Jeddah, also believes the Al-Qaeda leader’s tone has changed. "This is the first time I have seen bin Laden this weak," said Eshki, who knew the Al-Qaeda leader when he lived in Saudi Arabia.
"The message shows that he is in a difficult situation, particularly as we have heard that he has started to feel pressure in Pakistan’s tribal areas, at a time when a lot of militants are leaving Pakistan for Yemen or Somalia. Al-Qaeda faces being dismantled, both by the strong blows it is being dealt, and the Saudi rehabilitation programme," he added, referring to Riyadh's policy of putting militants who surrender in an intensive rehabilitation programme to reintegrate them into Saudi society, rather than punishing them.