Osama bin Laden has declared a new target for Al Qaeda, and his sights are on Ron Paul, a third-tier Republican candidate for Congress. Al Jazeera showed a short video, apparently from early July, of bin Laden speaking about the threat Ron Paul poses for his radical Islamic movement.
In the video, bin Laden speaks in his usual cryptic fashion. He does mention Ron Paul by name several times, each time with greater rage in his voice. According to most interpreters, bin Laden is upset about Paul's plan to get the US out of Iraq and the Middle East. The US presence is widely considered a boon to recruiting for jihadist groups, and any withdrawal would slow the progress toward a global war between Islam and the West.
An source inside the Bush administration, identified only as DC, claims that a proper interpretation of the video shows that Osama hates Ron Paul because of the candidate's "freedom is popular" message. It has long been the administration's position that the jihadists hate America because we are free. At one point in the video Osama clearly mentions New Hampshire, apparently fearing that Ron Paul will do well there, get mainstream media coverage, and then he could actually win the election.
The exact nature of the fatwa against Paul is widely disputed. Some say that Osama has called for loyalists to kill him. Others say Osama merely wants Muslims in the US to vote for Rudy Giuliani or John McCain, who have both consistently supported the war. A smaller third camp says that Osama is actually calling for pranks, like giving him a wedgie - Osama's favorite method of torture.
Asked to comment on the video, Ron Paul said he wasn't worried about Osama bin Laden, but he added: "He better not set foot in Texas, or we'll show him what's what."
The Department of Homeland Security, responding to the video, has lowered the threat level from Orange (high) to Yellow (elevated).