Personal and academic blog. Explores the borderlands between rhetoric, politics and intelligence.


Goodbye Big Apple, hello little kærnehus

Fredag forlader jeg KBH S for denne gang. Sommeren bliver på Ærø.


...and liftoff

This is the first posting - and probably it will be home alone for a while. But in time this page will log my explorations into intelligence, international security and rhetoric. As well as into London...


Bin Laden Speech Archive

*** NOTICE ***
The speech archive has been discontinued, since I haven't been able to follow the purported Bin Laden releases recently. Furthermore, outlets like NEFA foundation and others have been good at systematising their archive of Bin Laden speeches. This archive is complete up until 11 September 2007


The archive is intended to give a comprehensible overview of Osama Bin Laden's speeches and provide stable copies with notes intended for textual analysis.

When considering the impact these ghostly communiqués have on the public debate whenever they are released, it is only fitting that they are gathered and indexed as to give us possibility to demystify them via closer scrutiny.

Hopefully it can be of use to rhetoricians, analysts and others who need to make comparative analyses of the communications from Al Qaeda.

For a good and short introduction to Bin Laden's oratory, see the CRS Report for Congress. Al Qaeda: Statements and Evolving Ideology (FAS)

For a collection of newly translated and edited statements by Bin Laden see:
Lawrence, Bruce (Ed.), Messages to the World. The Statements of Osama Bin Laden, (London: Verso, 2005)

See disclaimer below.

September 11, 2007
A quick follow-up on "The Solution". This video, praising the hi-jackers of 9/11, is comprised of the same grainy videos of OBL, taken from the previous video. Furthermore there are various graphics produced by the As-Sahab media outlet. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a good, full translation.

September 7, 2007
The first video featuring OBL since 2004. Again, a statement that is directed to the west, specifically the US public. "The solution" as it has been dubbed calls for conversion as the only cure for the conflict. Read an analysis here.
MAY 23, 2006
As a response to the sentence over Zacarias Moussaoui in his alledged involvement in the 9/11 attack, Bin Laden states that Moussaoui was not a part of the plot.

JANUARY 19, 2006
A message to the American public, along the lines of the statement from October 2004, offering a long term truce, but also more attacks to come.

DECEMBER 27, 2004 *
A message to the Iraqi people with an appeal to boycott the upcoming elections.

DECEMBER 16, 2004
An audiotape message purportedly from bin Laden is posted on Arabic Web sites. The message praises the attackers who stormed the American consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on December 6, 2004.

"We pray to Allah to accept the mujahedeen who stormed the U.S. consulate in Jeddah as martyrs," the speaker says.

A Saudi militant group with ties to al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.

OCTOBER 29, 2004
Four days before the U.S. presidential election, al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape of Osama bin Laden addressing the American people. He said their security depends on U.S. policy, not on who is elected president.

"Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands," he said. "Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked."

MAY 6, 2004
An audiotape message purportedly from bin Laden is posted on an Islamic Web site, offering 22 pounds of gold to anyone who kills Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer, top U.S. military officers and U.N. officials.

The message suggests that the bounties were being offered in response to rewards the United States has offered for wanted figures in Afghanistan and Iraq, including bin Laden.
  • Read the speech here
  • Download the speech with notes

APRIL 14, 2004
Al-Jazeera broadcasts an audiotape that the CIA says is likely Osama bin Laden offering a truce to European nations if they pull troops out of Muslim countries. The speaker also threatens revenge on the United States for the death of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was killed March 22 in an Israeli targeted helicopter attack in Gaza City. The "truce" or "non-aggression" is offered to any European country that stops "attacking Muslims," but excludes the United States from any such deal. Many European leaders quickly ruled out any negotiations with the al Qaeda leader.

JANUARY 5, 2004
Unlike previous tapes attributed to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, this one, aired on Al-Jazeera, begins with the speaker stating that he is bin Laden.

The speaker describes the U.S. occupation of Iraq as the beginning of an occupation of Persian Gulf states for their oil and urges Muslims to challenge U.S.-allied governments in the Middle East.

"There is no dialogue except with weapons," he said.

OCTOBER 19, 2003 *
On this tape Bin Laden gives his moral support to the Iraqi people and rallies them against the local rulers cooperating with USA, denouncing democracy as heresy.

"They have chosen democracy, the faith of the ignorant, through becoming members of legislative councils. They have gone astray and misled many people."

OCTOBER 18, 2003
Al-Jazeera airs a tape that the CIA says was recorded no more than six months before it was aired, since the speaker makes "specific references to recent events."

The recording threatens to launch suicide attacks against the United States and any countries that assist it in Iraq. "Most of you are a mob with no trace of good morals," the speaker said, addressing Americans. "We will continue to fight you as long as we have weapons in our hands."

SEPTEMBER 10, 2003
Al-Jazeera airs a videotape of bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, walking down a hillside path in an undisclosed location.

In audiotaped statements accompanying the video, bin Laden praises the hijackers who crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001.
  • Read the speech here
  • Download the speech with notes

JULY 18, 2003 *
Alleged Bin Laden speech. Dealing with the true meaning of Jihad.

FEBRUARY 11, 2003
Bin Laden tells Muslims around the world to challenge the U.S.-led war in Iraq. The audiotape aired on Al-Jazeera, which originally denied its existence.

Bin Laden adds that any nation that helps the U.S. attack Iraq, "[Has] to know that they are outside this Islamic nation. Jordan and Morocco and Nigeria and Saudi Arabia should be careful that this war, this crusade, is attacking the people of Islam first."

NOVEMBER 12, 2002
An audiotape indicates that the al Qaeda leader might be alive and warns of future attacks against U.S. targets.

The message, broadcast by Al-Jazeera, praises terror attacks in Yemen, Kuwait, Bali and Moscow, Russia, and warns U.S. allies, "Just like you kill us, we will kill you."

OCTOBER 6, 2002
Al-Jazeera broadcasts an audiotape of bin Laden, in which he says, "That's why I tell you, as God is my witness, whether America increases or reduces tensions, we will surely answer back in the same manner, with God's blessing and grace, and I promise you that the Islamic youth are preparing for you what will fill your hearts with horror, and they will target the centers of your economy until you stop your tyranny and terror."
  • Read the speech here
  • Download the speech with notes

APRIL 15, 2002
Al-Jazeera broadcasts a videotape that shows Osama bin Laden with his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who claims credit for the September 11 attacks.

"This great victory that has been accomplished can only be attributed to God alone," al-Zawahiri says on the tape. "Those 19 brothers who went out and gave their souls to Allah almighty, God almighty has granted them this victory we are enjoying now."

JANUARY 31, 2002
Despite Al-Jazeera's objections, CNN airs an interview that Al-Jazeera conducted with bin Laden in October 2001 -- less than a month before the Taliban collapsed and al Qaeda's leadership fled.

Bin Laden says the U.S. accusations that he was involved in the September 11 attacks are "unwarranted." He later says, "If inciting people to do that is terrorism, and if killing those who kill our sons is terrorism, then let history be witness that we are terrorists."

DECEMBER 26, 2001
Al-Jazeera broadcasts excerpts of a videotape of bin Laden in which the al Qaeda leader calls the September 11 attacks "blessed terror" and accuses the West of hating Islam.

"We say our terror against America is blessed terror in order to put an end to suppression, in order for the United States to stop its support to Israel," bin Laden says on the tape.

DECEMBER 13, 2001
The Bush administration releases a videotape of bin Laden bragging about the deadly attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The tape was found in a private residence in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, but was made in Kandahar and dated November 9, officials say.

Bin Laden indicates he knew of the September 11 plan several days before the attacks. He jokes that some of the hijackers thought they were assisting in a non-suicide hijacking.

NOVEMBER 3, 2001
Osama bin Laden lashes out at the United States and United Nations in a videotape broadcast on Al-Jazeera.

Bin Laden condemns U.S.-led airstrikes in Afghanistan and claims the United States is targeting civilians. Bin Laden does not deny that his al Qaeda organization was responsible for the September 11 attacks and says true Muslims celebrated those acts.

OCTOBER 7, 2001
Hours after U.S.-led forces began dropping bombs on Afghanistan, bin Laden taunts the U.S. in a video broadcast on the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera station.

He praises the September 11 attacks, but does not claim responsibility. The tape shows him seated in a cave next to his lieutenants Ayman al-Zawahiri and Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. Bin Laden insists, "Every Muslim must rise to defend his religion. The wind of faith is blowing."
The general overview is derived from CNN's covering. My additions are marked with a *.

Every speech contains a link to the original source of the translation. Some speeches also have a link to a pdf-file with line numbers and notes from this site. Please respect the rights of the publishers.

If you have any comments or analyses of Bin Laden speeches that you would like to post here, please contact

Chaim Perelman

1912 - 1984

The Belgian law-professor Chaim Perelman is one of the central European figures of the Neo-classical rhetoric.

Chaim Perelman at Georgia Institute of Technology.

His work "The New Rhetoric" is central. It is possible to get a hold on in an English translation.

War, intelligence and Rhetoric?
His concept of "Presence" echoes strategic thinking on "center of gravity" - I think.
I wrote something about it here.

Other interesting things?

Isocrates (Isokrates)

436 BC (Athens) - 338 BC (?)

Not so well known as some of the heavier boys in the rhetorical school-yard, Isocrates has been immensly influential on generations of later rhetoricians.

A central concept in Isocrates' writing is 'anti-logos' or 'controversia' as it was later known; discussion between two stances to yield a better understanding in the end.

Isocrates at the Georgia Institute of Technology.


War, intelligence and Rhetoric?
Isocrates' concept of anti-logos echoes Heraclitus' old proverb "War is the father of all things"

Other interesting things?

Cicero, Marcus Tullius

106 BC (Arpinum) - 43 BC (Philippicae)

A true heavy-weight rhetorician. His life was an embodyment of both shrewd political calculation and well founded rhetorical idealism.

Conley places him in the heritage line of Isocrates - a rhetoric with an emphasis of language as a constitutive element of human social interaction.

Cicero at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

His book "De Oratore" can be found here - but you better brush up on your latin.

War, intelligence and Rhetoric?
A thought about the fantastic power of a rhetor in a mass-rising.
OTPOR and Cicero

A short paper on Cicero and the War on Terror.
Dr. Ken Zagacki - Cicero and the Rhetoric of War.

Other interesting things?

Aristotle (Aristoteles)

384 BC (Stagirus) - 322 BC (Chalcis)

One of the most influential rhetorical thinkers in the 20th century, this polyhistorian superman's rhetorical view wasn't so widespread at his own time.

He is somewhat placed between the hardcore manipulative rhetoric of Gorgias and the social constituive rhetoric of Isocrates.

Aristotle at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

His book "On Rhetoric" can be found here.

War, intelligence and Rhetoric?

Other interesting things?


This page contains selections of my scribblings. They reflect my dabblings in academia, perhaps not profound wisdom, but hopefully they will be of use to some of those with the same tendencies.

Last updated 6 July 2005

How is a small power influenced by the Revolution in Military Affairs? The Danish Example
A revolution in military affairs (RMA) have been heralded by enthusiastic theorists that tries to show how new technology is driving a new way of war and of thinking on conflict. Others are more wary but most agree that things are changing. Most of the RMA thinking is driven from the USA, as it is here the real technological and organizational leaps are made. But smaller countries are also influenced by the new way of conflict. This paper shows aspects of change in the Danish armed forces and political thinking on war as of March 2005.
  • Download it here (PDF)

Dialogue with the Devil? Bin Laden and the Rhetorical Construction of a Strategic Persona
The October 2004 speech by Osama Bin Laden carried a more conciliatory tone. It did not have any notable effect. But was it a failure? A rhetorical analysis of the speech shows that Bin Laden is building his persona to allow him to deal with a democratic, western audience. That this person-building is ongoing hints that western statesmen and diplomats should reconsider their own persona.

Does 'Intelligence Studies' Constitute a Seperate Discipline in its Own Right?
An essay trying to answer just that question, adressing some of the problems linked with naming a 'Discipline'. The focus is more or less one-sided on the Social Sciences rather than the intelligence studies done in History.

Reversed Magnets. Rhetoric and International Relations
A short introduction to the wonders and problems of rhetoric, aimed at students of IR.

En retorisk vold? Terrorisme og retorisk kritik
A Rhetorical Violence? Terrorism and Rhetorical Critique
An synopsis exam paper outlining the possibility of rhetorical critique of terrorist attacks. The paper is two-fold, a written and an oral presentation. It is in Danish, but with an English abstract.

All content on this page is © Nis Leerskov Mathiesen - please cite accordingly


CV to be published later