WASHINGTON France's Nicolas Sarkozy, Britain's Gordon Brown and the American use of atomic weapons in World War Two are clues that suggest the latest video from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden could be only a few weeks old.
"Just a few days ago, the Japanese observed the 62nd anniversary of the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by your nuclear weapons," bin Laden states in a U.S. government translation of the message that surfaced on Friday.
He was referring to memorial ceremonies that took place barely a month ago, on Aug. 6 in Hiroshima and on Aug. 9 in Nagasaki.
A U.S. official said that could mean the video was recorded sometime later in August, but stressed that intelligence analysts have not yet authenticated the tape.
"We're operating under the assumption that the tape is real," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the subject involves classified intelligence.
The timing of the recording could prove to be an important clue to al Qaeda's ability to produce and distribute propaganda videos, even those featuring the al Qaeda leader who is believed to be hiding in the remote mountainous terrain of northwestern Pakistan.
The video was obtained by the U.S. government and has not yet been posted to Islamist Web sites that are the usual channel for al Qaeda messages.
The notion of the video's timeliness was also reinforced by bin Laden references to Sarkozy and Brown as leaders of the West. Sarkozy was elected president of France in May. Brown became British prime minister in June.
"The leaders of the West -- especially Bush, Blair, Sarkozy and Brown -- still talk about freedom and human rights with a flagrant disregard for the intellects of human beings," bin Laden says in the U.S. translation.
Even bin Laden's railing against world capitalism bears a possible reference to the U.S. credit crisis, though absent is any mention of the turmoil that afflicted world stock markets in August.
"The reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages ... is but one side of the grim face of this global system," bin Laden says.