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SITE In The News
Osama Goal: Drain U.S.
By James Gordon Meek
Published in: New York Daily News
November 5, 2004

WASHINGTON - Osama Bin Laden wants to "bleed" the U.S. economy until America is no longer a world power, he says in newly translated portions of his latest terror tape.

The Al Qaeda overlord claimed in unaired portions of a video released Friday that the strategy worked against the Soviets in Afghanistan, where Bin Laden founded Al Qaeda.

"We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat," Bin Laden said, according to an English translation by Arab TV channel Al Jazeera, which obtained the 18-minute tape. "We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy."

Bin Laden cited reports that the Sept. 11 "planes operation" cost the terror network about $500,000, and said U.S. economic losses topped $500 billion.

"Meaning that every dollar of Al Qaeda's defeated a million dollars [in America's treasury] ... besides the loss of a huge number of jobs," he said.

The terror mastermind, who also cited America's record $413 billion budget deficit, appeared to be counting not only domestic losses following the 2001 attacks but also the $155 billion spent so far on waging war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Al Qaeda's interest in harming the American economy is no secret. The World Trade Center attacks were seen as an effort to strike the nation's financial heart, and in August, Homeland Security officials put the U.S. financial sector on orange alert after intercepting reports of terrorists casing the headquarters of Citibank, the World Bank and the New York Stock Exchange.

But some counterterrorism officials say infrastructure is likely the more appealing target.

"Terrorists have repeatedly said they want to hit the U.S. economy, but it's a stretch to say that means Citibank," one senior counterterrorism official told the Daily News. "Wall Street is less an issue than telephone, pipeline and water resources."

Terrorism researcher Rita Katz of the SITE Institute said Islamist publications long have preached to sympathizers that the only way to defeat the U.S. is hurt its economy. Extremists have written that maintaining Iraq's instability ensures that American occupiers stay there at great cost to taxpayers, she said.

"Beyond a high body count, what they really look for is attacking our economy," Katz said. "Without a strong economy, the U.S. is not going to be a superpower anymore."


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