If New Mexico Goes for Bush Will Bin Laden Bomb Rio Rancho?

A story in the Rupert Murdoch-owned (read: right wing) New York Post this morning ([link]), and linked on the Drudge Report ([link]) this afternoon, claimed that in his latest videotape, Osama Bin Laden threatens to attack American states that vote for Bush on Nov. 2. According to The Post:

"The respected Middle East Media Research Institute, which monitors and translates Arabic media and Internet sites, said initial translations of a key portion of bin Laden's video rant to the American people Friday night missed an ostentatious bid by the Saudi-born terror master to divide American voters and tilt the election towards Democratic challenger John Kerry."

At issue is a section of the tape, here translated by Al Jazeera ([link]), "In conclusion, I tell you in truth, that your security is not in the hands of Kerry, nor Bush, nor al-Qaida. No. Your security is in your own hands. And every state that doesn't play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security."

But we all know that the English word state is used to refer to both to a nation (Mexico) and one of it's components parts (Chihuahua). Why would Bin Laden say that our security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush and then go on to specifically threaten states that vote for Bush? Neither the version we read on CNN.com ([link]), nor the much more detailed translation at Al Jazeera seemed to hint that Bin Laden meant Tennessee when he spoke of states that might attack him.

The Post's story uses a translation from an organization called the Middle East Media Research Group (MEMRI). According to a 2002 story about MEMRI in the British paper The Guardian, ([link]), MEMRI's President and Co-founder Colonel Yigal Carmon, "spent 22 years in Israeli military intelligence and later served as counter-terrorism adviser to two Israeli prime ministers, Yitzhak Shamir and Yitzhak Rabin." The Guardian story asserts that MEMRI is engaged in anti-Arab propaganda and that translations such as the one cited in today's New York Post are, "part of building a case against the [Saudi] kingdom and persuading the United States to treat it as an enemy, rather than an ally. It's a campaign that the Israeli government and American neo-conservatives have been pushing since [2002].

The bottom line: read the translations of Bin Laden's speech and decide for yourself. As always, take the conservative Drudge report, the conservative New York Post, the liberal Guardian and the liberal Alibi's words with many grains of salt.