MONICA NOVOTNY: Another breaking story we're following today: it appears Osama bin Laden is back with a farewell message for President Bush.
[clip from bin Laden audio tape]
NOVOTNY: In this latest audio tape, bin Laden says America will never win the fight against terror. He's also telling Muslims to launch a holy war to stop Israel's attacks on Gaza. It is the second audio tape purportedly from the al Qaeda leader in eight months.
Joining me live from our NBC News Washington bureau is Steve Emerson, terrorism expert.
So, Steve, what affect does this have on Muslim militants? Is bin Laden still relevant?
STEVEN EMERSON: No, I think this tape actually demonstrates his irrelevance. First of all, it has been eighteen days since the conflict began and he just sort of got into play right now. Number two, what he is trying to do is urge the Palestinians not to give into a ceasefire or surrender – like Iran has been doing.
But the fact is that he waited this long and he similarly issues the same taunt after taunt that he's issued against Bush, I think is a repetitive message, and doesn't do much for his following.
NOVOTNY: Is this all about raising money for him – and trying to prove his relevance?
EMERSON: Well, I guess you're right, it's trying to prove that he's still around even though he's a dollar short and a day late. But in general, I think this proves that he is more irrelevant than relevant – and in a very ironic way.
NOVOTNY: Are we ever going to catch this guy, Steve?
EMERSON: Well, first of all, what it tells us now is that he's very hidden off and hidden away so much so that he's not getting news on-time and he can't distribute tapes on-time. So he's really in a remote place.
Will we get him? I suppose over time that will happen, but he has really been able to, remarkably, secure himself in a cave without any outside knowledge whatsoever, which is pretty amazing going on seven and a half years.
NOVOTNY: Yeah, considering that they're still able to, at least, do some sort of hand-off where these tapes do get out in some form – even if, as you say, they are a day late and a dollar short.
Steve Emerson, great to talk to you, as always.