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Renowned bin Laden expert to speak at ASU Oct. 11


October 08, 2007

He has never seen him in person, nor talked with him, but Michael Scheuer possibly knows more about Osama bin Laden than almost anyone else in the world.

Scheuer, who was head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit for three years and spent nearly two decades running covert operations for the CIA, will give a free lecture at ASU beginning at 4:30 p.m., Oct. 11. His lecture is titled “Two Steps Toward Hell: The Scare-Mongers, the Caliphate and Islamofascism.”

Scheuer’s name and reputation are known by bin Laden. During bin Laden’s most recent video, which aired Sept. 7, the al-Qaeda chief said that “if Americans want to understand why they are losing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they should read the book by Michael Scheuer.”

In his lecture, Scheuer, who is a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, an adjunct professor of security studies at Georgetown University and a terrorist consultant for “CBS News,” will attempt to correct what he sees as a misreading of bin Laden’s goals.

He will examine how terms such as “islamofascism” and the characterization of Bin Laden as trying to re-establish the Caliphate obscure the real issues of contention – and, therefore, obscure the real strategic choices before us. He is critical of Democrats and Republicans on this score, as well as a number of popular commentators, hence the term “scaremongers.”

In an analysis of bin Laden’s video for the Jamestown Foundation, Scheuer says that the video statement “puts to rest, at least for now, widespread speculation that he is dead, retired or has been pushed aside by his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.”

“With a newly trimmed and dyed beard, comfortable robes rather than a camouflage jacket, and a clear and patient speaking style, bin Laden achieved a major purpose of his speech before he said a word,” Scheuer says. “He clearly showed the world that he was still alive, that he was healthy and not at death’s door, that he spoke from secure surroundings unthreatened by the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, and that he, al-Qaeda and their allies were ready to continue the war.”

In the video, bin Laden is inviting Americans to convert to Islam, Scheuer says.

“He makes himself a central player only because he is volunteering to guide Americans to Allah,” Scheuer says, adding: “It is imperative, from bin Laden’s perspective, that Muslims worldwide see U.S. disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan as Allah-granted victories for Islam and faithful Muslims.

“This perspective of ‘God’s victory’ will further erode defeatism in the Muslim world and galvanize far more support for the jihad than any bin Laden claim of glory for al-Qaeda’s efforts,” Scheuer adds. “Indeed, such a claim would undercut much of what bin Laden has accomplished, and he knows it.”

The lecture is sponsored by the ASU Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. Though the lecture is free, tickets are required. To reserve tickets, or request more information, call (480) 727-6736 or visit the Web site www.asu.edu/csrc. A reception and book-signing will follow the lecture.