The time between the attempted attack and OBL's message is enough to think that this is an attempt by the leader himself to project his supremacy. Also, it is a follow-up opportunity to spread AQ's false ideological message once again, as documented in al Sahwa's mission:
"Under the banner of the blessed awakening which is sweeping the Islamic world...Your brothers in Palestine and in the land of the two Holy Places are calling upon your help and asking you to take part in fighting against the enemy - your enemy and their enemy - the Americans and the Israelis. They are asking you to do whatever you can, with one's own means and ability, to expel the enemy, humiliated and defeated, out of the sanctities of Islam"
(Osama bin Laden, Aug 1996).
Department of State spokesman, P.J. Crowley, is correct is stating that this is an attempt to remain relevant. I think OBL's actions here may internally anger AQAP leadership who most likely planned the attack independently.
As you may know, al Sahwa has been engaging in dialogue about whether or not AQ is structured and strategically operating as a conglomerate, or if the conventionally accepted theory remains true that AQ is a franchise. OBL's message presents good reason for further exploration on this matter, as it helps to determine an effective counter-terrorism targeting strategy.
I propose examining OBL's rhetoric, as it will undoubtedly identify his overarching philosophy: Palestine. He stated in today's message that it is "unfair for the West" to live as it does while "brothers in Gaza [suffer]." Accurately assessing where his "heart" lies, what he is knowingly concerned about, why he repetitively acknowledges the reason for continuing jihad, will enable professionals to understand and target past attacks. Most important to our mission, it will empower us to project future attacks.
Examining the leader's rhetoric will also enable us to identify the aligning ideologies of AQCL affiliates and determine whether or not they are actually a part of a "franchise" or "conglomerate" base. For example, AQAP is concerned with liberating Muslims throughout the Arabian Peninsula,while LeT seeks to liberate Muslims in India (Kashmir). The ideological thread will further highlight the correlation between where ideologies differ and how attacks are planned and executed.
In conclusion, what I think is happening - and my colleagues will most likely agree with me on this point - is that AQ and its affiliates are collectively strengthening their efforts to bring the jihad directly to the US. Even though OBL's message was delayed, it is important to point out that he still successfully has the perceived ability to reach his AQ network. The Christmas Day attempt was only one of many plots against the US in 2009. Especially due to documented increase of the use of the internet, jihadists, either American-born or foreigners to the US homeland, will continue to seek religious and tactics training in Yemen and Pakistan [amongst other nations].