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Robertson: Al Qaeda fights back with message

Timing of tape's release no coincidence

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CNN's Nic Robertson

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Nic Robertson

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- On Thursday, an Arabic-language satellite TV network broadcast an audiotape it said was from Osama bin Laden.

The speaker threatens more attacks against the United States and refers to attacks in European capitals, providing some clues to the date the tape was recorded.

Regardless of when it was recorded, CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson said he wasn't surprised by the timing of the tape's release. He talked about that with CNN anchor Daryn Kagan.

KAGAN: Nic, since this news broke over a couple of hours ago, you've had a chance to look at some things and listen in. Tell us any new nuggets you've been able to bring to us.

ROBERTSON: I think the analysis has to be that it seems to be no coincidence that after a week when the news has all been negative against al Qaeda, particularly in the Afghanistan region -- that a new message should be released which has, as part of that message, that al Qaeda is winning -- winning in Afghanistan.

So that attack in Pakistan last week that was targeting bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, it appears not to have gotten him but may have gotten some other key al Qaeda leadership figures. It appears as if al Qaeda wants to get the message back on its terms and has pulled out its biggest gun to do that, Osama bin Laden. [The CIA-led attack killed 18 people in a town in Pakistan.]

We haven't heard from him in over a year. And now he's back on the airwaves at the end of a week where the news for them has been particularly disastrous.

So whether or not it was recorded for this, or was it sitting on a shelf somewhere waiting to be released, I think perhaps that's the biggest clue that the battle, perhaps, to catch bin Laden is heating up.

We've heard from [CNN correspondent] David Ensor over the last couple of hours saying that the CIA does appear to be ratcheting up its targeting and efforts to catch bin Laden and Zawahiri. And perhaps this is a bonus for intelligence officials.

Every time bin Laden or Zawahiri break cover with a message, this is another opportunity for intelligence officials perhaps to trace where that message came from and perhaps get to one of these two people.

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