Thursday, October 28, 2004


The Christian Science Monitor has a few details about the October surprise terror tape (featuring an American-accented English speaker) that strain credulity just a wee bit:

The tape's speaker references the conflict in Darfur, the 9/11 commission, Massachusetts same sex legislation, and the upcoming US presidential election....

Al Amriki issues several bursts of Arabic, mainly from the Koran, speaking the language well, but not as a native, say Arabic speakers who've heard the tape. And he's clearly a sophisticated news consumer - quoting sources ranging from BBC's Arabic language radio to US comedian Bill Maher.

What? Nothing about Britney's wedding? Or the Ashlee Simpson lip-sync?

Fox has now shown parts of it, and even at Free Republic there's skepticism:

just saw it, seemed eerie, kinda fake?


I thought it looked fake, but what do I know?

But the Monitor says experts think it's genuine. The speaker, whose "face is masked with a Palestinian scarf and sunglasses," "appears to be fair-skinned," yet the principal suspect is supposedly this guy -- Adam Gadahn, who is not at all fair-skinned.*

In any case,

Analysts at Pakistan's spy agency, the ISI, say the tape is genuine, explaining the material bears the same "signature" as previous As-Sahab video releases, which are unique in the world of jihadi video for their sophisticated editing techniques....

"For someone to put that amount of advanced effort into fabricating an as-Sahab video sounds a little far-fetched," [terrorism consultant Evan Kohlmann] says....

Really? Maybe not.... the hard-fought 1996 race for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court between [Karl] Rove's client, Harold See, then a University of Alabama law professor, and the Democratic incumbent, Kenneth Ingram ... Rove, dissatisfied with the campaign's progress, had flyers printed up -- absent any trace of who was behind them -- viciously attacking See and his family.... The ploy left Rove's opponent at a loss. Ingram's staff realized that it would be fruitless to try to persuade the public that the See campaign was attacking its own candidate in order "to create a backlash against the Democrat," as Joe Perkins, who worked for Ingram, put it to me....


*UPDATE: Sorry, this was a bit dumb -- in Pakistan, anyone white is fair-skinned.

I've now seen part of the video on ABC. The Freepers are right -- it does look fake. I can't tell if it's a fluent English speaker with a mild accent or a native English speaker doing a fake accent that's really bad. To my ears the guy nails the pronunciation of "Zawahiri" -- he doesn't say it at all like an American -- but I'm originally from Boston, so what the hell do I know? (In any case, it's a pretty odd accent for someone who was born in Oregon and raised in California; the ABC story notes that "U.S. intelligence officials say the voice on the tape does not match Gadahn's or that of any Americans suspected of being part of al Qaeda." The speaker's spiel also sounds like what you'd say if you were making a bad fake jihad tape and your script hadn't gone through more than one rewrite, tops. If Rove paid to have this done, he did not get his money's worth.

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