'Stale' bin Laden Tape Has Some Experts Questioning Strategy Behind the Message

A newly released Usama bin Laden audiotape labeled 'stale' by some terror experts has raised questions about whether his seemingly outdated message is really a strategy.

On the tape, released late Wednesday, bin Laden accuses Pope Benedict XVI of helping wage a "new Crusade" against Islam and warns of a "severe" reaction from Muslims to the publication of cartoons in Europe depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Some analysts on Thursday were focusing less on what was said in the message than what wasn't. They said the apparent lack of references to events after 2006, such as the reprinting of controversial cartoons, which caused widespread rioting when they were first published by a Danish newspaper in 2005, and the absence of talk about the Iraq war indicate that bin Laden's message could have been recorded months, even years, ago. Bin Laden also made no mention of a soon-to-be released anti-Islam film, "Fitna," by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders.

"The tape seems to be very generic," Neil Livingstone, a terrorism analyst, told FOX News. "It's rambling, it doesn't really have focus and it refers to this old issue that is rather stale right now — of the cartoons that were first published by a Danish newspaper and then published in other European cities.

• Transcript of Bin Laden's Newest Recording

"The fact that he (bin Laden) didn't mark the five-year anniversary of the war or refer to any other issues ... suggests that this is very generic -- it could have been done at any time and it finally made its way out yesterday," said Livingstone, the CEO of ExecutiveAction LLC.

"And it was just a coincidence that it was on the same day that we marked the anniversary of the Iraq war."

But other terrorism experts said they believe the tape is new and shows that bin Laden is still very much in control of Al Qaeda.

Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA's bin Laden unit and author of "Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq," said bin Laden may be trying to rally his followers before the release of Wilders' film, which has already sparked outrage in Europe.

"I think he's trying to get a little bit ahead of the curve before this film comes out in the Netherlands, which I think is going to be a problem for us, in the Muslim world," Scheuer said. "And the fact that it was apparently the prophet's birthday."

The tape's release coincided with Mulid al-Nabi, the celebration of the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Central Intelligence Agency has analyzed the tape and has a "high degree of confidence" that the voice is indeed that of bin Laden, a U.S. intelligence official told FOXNews.com.

Scheuer dismissed claims that the Al Qaeda leader is dead or ailing.

"Very much alive — they (Al Qaeda) would tell us if he died," Scheuer said. "They would be grieving, but they would be celebrating that he got what he wanted: He was a martyr. Al Qaeda has no record, with all of the people we've killed, of ever trying to hide one of them."

The U.S. intelligence official agreed.

"Let me put it this way: We have no reason to doubt that bin Laden is alive," the official said.

On the 5-minute tape, bin Laden refers to the bombing of Muslim villages, saying, "These savage acts haven't ended the war, but rather, increase our determination to cling to our right, [to] avenge our people and expel invaders from our country."

He then goes on to warn those who have published images of the Prophet Muhammad in Europe.

"What's interesting is that Al Qaeda has always been commenting on the Europeans and their denigration of the prophet, but it's usually been [Al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-] Zawahiri," Scheuer said. "It's very interesting that they've stepped it up a notch, to bin Laden himself commenting on these things."

The tape is bin Laden's first for 2008. On a nearly hour-long audiotape released on Dec. 29, he warned Iraq's Sunni Arabs against fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq and vowed new attacks on Israel.

Livingstone said that regardless of when the tape was recorded, he'd be worried if he lived in Europe.

"This is a veiled threat, and it's not very specific," he said, "but if I were in Denmark today or in any of the other countries where cartoons were reprinted, I think I'd be on very high alert."

• Messages From Bin Laden Since 9/11

The Associated Press contributed to this story.