CAIRO – Osama bin Laden endorsed the failed attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day and threatened new attacks against the United States in an audio message released Sunday that appeared aimed at asserting he maintains some direct command over al-Qaida-inspired offshoots.
However, U.S. officials and several researchers who track terrorist groups said there was no indication bin Laden or any of his top lieutenants had anything to do with or even knew in advance of the Christmas plot by a Yemen-based group that is one of several largely independent al-Qaida franchises.
A U.S. State Department spokesman said al-Qaida’s core leadership offers such groups strategic guidance but depends on them to carry it out.
“He’s trying to continue to appear relevant” by talking up the attempted attack by an affiliate, the spokesman, P.J. Crowley, said.