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"Inside the agitator's studio"



Terrorism experts have predicted that the Jan. 30 Iraqi elections would engender further comment from Osama bin Laden, who had called for a boycott of the event in a taped statement that was broadcast Dec. 27 on Al-Jazeera. Right on schedule, a freshly filmed bin Laden screed was delivered to the network last week – in DVD format. The disc's existence was kept a secret until Al-Jazeera's news staff could transcribe the following hidden message, which a staff technician uncovered while working late one night.

(Sounds of moderate physical exertion are heard, as if three men of medium to large size are pulling out chairs and sitting down. There are a few seconds of someone blowing on a microphone, accompanied by what may be a sandwich being munched. The audio track distorts a bit as a smooth-voiced man begins to talk.)

Bin Laden: Greetings and salutations, oh followers of the divine path. If you are hearing my words, God has guided your hands to the "special features" menu of this DVD. A thousand blessings upon your house for realizing that you could access this exclusive commentary track by clicking on the Uzi-shaped icon between the words "Play terror threat" and "Trailers."

The infidel crusaders call these hidden extras Easter eggs, but we would rather suffer a hundred nights of torture in their dankest prison than let the name of one of their foul holidays pass our lips. So welcome to the first in a series of what we will forevermore refer to as Holy Grenades of Doom.

At my right is Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, emir of Al Qaeda in Iraq and my spiritual consultant on the video.

Al-Zarqawi: God is great!

Bin Laden: And on my left is Jerry Martinez of A-Plus Video in Burbank, who produced and directed.

Jerry: 'Sup, people.

Bin Laden: As you can see from the picture of me you are now watching, we went into this project determined to make it the most sublime call to jihad the Muslim world has ever received. From my first word of dire warning to my parting look of tastefully bearded defiance, we would settle for nothing less than the knowledge that our vile persecutors were quaking before our moral and spiritual superiority. And so have we done, as this gorgeously framed portrait shot demonstrates.

Al-Zarqawi: Long live our righteous, color-corrected cause!

Jerry: Osama's right about the quality thing. It used to be that you could get an audience to watch 20 minutes of a talking head against a cave wall, but those days are gone for good. It's boring now. It's predictable. That's what I like about the neutral landscape we picked as a backdrop instead. Is it Pakistan? Is it Afghanistan? Is it a nature preserve on the outskirts of Toledo? Wherever it is, it's not about to go out of style tomorrow.

Bin Laden: It is the Christian usurpers who will feel outmoded when they see how closely we have hewn to our hallowed teachings. Pay special attention as I quote the sacred prophecy, "Only when the slavering-dog invaders are repelled from the holy places will the sun shine unceasingly on the faces of the faithful." I think it is coming up right … (pause) … now.

Notice, please, how the sun comes out from behind a cloud at the precise moment that I enunciate the word "shine."

Al-Zarqawi: Praise be to Allah! It is a sweet divination come to life!

Jerry: Yeah, I'm really glad we got that shot. We had to wait all day for about a four-second window of opportunity there. And talk about a bitch to light.

(Murmurs of assent from the others.)

Bin Laden: In a moment, dear viewer, you will see how easy it is to confound our enemies with simple tricks that drive their puny minds to distraction. When we began to circulate these videos, the American cowboys noticed that I had begun gesturing with the opposite arm to what they were used to. They took this as evidence that God's humble servant had been weakened in one of their pathetic attacks – when, as all true believers know, I was simply covering up a bad sunburn I had developed by hanging my left arm out the window of my Jeep Cherokee. But ever since word of my "injury" reached their infernal CNN, I have refrained from using my left arm, the better to nurse their ridiculous false sense of security.

See? There I am, gesturing lazily in midair with my right hand. And if one were to look closely, one could discern that I almost forgot for a brief moment and used my left.

Jerry: (Snickers) You're right! Look at that! It's going up, it's going up … oops! It's back down.

Bin Laden: (Chuckles in mild embarrassment) Not that the Americans will notice, those blind pigs of ill-gotten privilege.

Al-Zarqawi: (Maniacal laughter) The fools! We will chortle heartily at their stupidity until the streets run red with their blood!

Jerry: You know what I like best about the whole hand trick? The same thing I love about this video in general: Anybody with a Hi-8 camera and some imagination can do it at home. There wasn't any need for a lot of costly screwing around in post.

That's really where the field of video intimidation is going, I think. There's going to be more and more low-cost but nice-looking stuff that can go toe-to-toe with the work put out by the big boys.

Bin Laden: Oh, the picture is fading. We were so busy reveling in the obvious favor of our God that I did not think to keep an eye on the counter. (Pause) These are some seriously long credits. What is a "rigging gaffer," anyway?

Al-Zarqawi: Death to the engineers' unions that would hold us in chains!

Bin Laden: And what happened to the subject of the elections? Did I not lay out a precise timetable for the disruption of the "democratic" apostasy? What has become of that footage, Jerry Martinez?

Jerry: Oh, it's on here. I just didn't want to give them too much to chew on all at once, so I threw it into Deleted Scenes, where it's safer for everybody. That's what we're tracking next. Grab yourselves a Pibb Xtra, and I'll meet you back here in 10 minutes.

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