Al-Qaida sympathizers have unleashed a torrent of anger against Al-Jazeera television, accusing it of misrepresenting Osama bin Laden’s latest audiotape by airing excerpts in which he criticizes mistakes by insurgents in Iraq.
Users of a leading Islamic militant Web forum posted thousands of insults against the pan-Arab station for focusing on excerpts in which bin Laden criticizes insurgents, including his followers.
Analysts said the reaction highlighted militants’ surprise at bin Laden’s words, and their dismay at the deep divisions among al-Qaida and other Iraqi militants that he appeared to be trying to heal.
“It’s not about Al-Jazeera, it’s about their shock from bin Laden,” said Diaa Rashwan, an Egyptian expert on Islamic militant groups. “For the first time, bin Laden, who used to be the spiritual leader who gives guidance, became a critic of al-Qaida and is confessing mistakes. This is unusual.”
“God fight Al-Jazeera,” railed one militant Web poster, calling the station a “collaborator with the Crusaders” for suggesting the tape showed weakness in al-Qaida and featuring discussions of how the tape reflected weaknesses and divisions among insurgents in Iraq.
‘It was insensitive, and I have embarrassed myself and my party by its use,’ O’Connor said.
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