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[] WPO 11.12.01: Tape of Bin Laden Discussing Attacks to be Released,

Tape of Bin Laden Discussing Attacks to be Released=20
White House May Add English Subtitles to Avoid Charges of Doctoring Arabic=
 in Garbled Sections=20

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 11, 2001; Page A20=20

The White House plans to release a tape of Osama bin Laden discussing the=
 World Trade Center attack later this week and is studying whether subtitles=
 should be added to translate the Arabic to avoid charges that the=
 soundtrack was doctored, senior administration officials said.

The 40-minute videotape, in which bin Laden discussed his advance knowledge=
 and responsibility for the attacks, was made by an amateur hoping to=
 document an al Qaeda dinner last month honoring an older mullah, officials=
 said. The tape's sound "is spotty and garbled and one part is taped over,"=
 according to one official who has seen segments of the tape and been shown=
 the transcript.

On the tape, bin Laden praises God that both towers collapsed when he had=
 only expected more limited destruction, according to officials who have=
 seen the tape or read a transcript.

As the group sits on the floor eating from bowls and being served from=
 silver trays, bin Ladin jokes that his own press aide, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith,=
 had no advance knowledge of the attacks and rushed to tell him when news=
 reports first came in.

Bin Laden also tells the group he knew Mohamed Atta was in charge of the=
 hijacking group and that some of the "brothers" who conducted the operation=
 did not know the nature of the work they were tasked to do, according to=
 the official. Bin Laden says on the dinner tape, "They were only told at=
 the time they boarded the planes," the official said.

President Bush said the portions of the tape he saw reinforced his will to=
 pursue bin Laden and his al Qaeda network. "For those who see this tape,=
 they'll realize that not only is he guilty of incredible murder, he has no=
 conscience and no soul, that he represents the worst of civilization."

Intelligence officials, who recently obtained the tape in a private home in=
 Jalalabad, have checked it with experts inside and outside the U.S.=
 government. Last week the officials told the White House they considered it=

Since that time there has been an internal debate about when and how to=
 release it. Some have argued it could be used to counter overseas critics=
 in the Muslim world who want evidence made public of bin Laden's role in=
 the Sept. 11 attacks that took the lives of nearly 3,300 people in New=
 York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Others worry that the tape's release could jeopardize the chance of=
 acquiring additional evidence of bin Laden's guilt.

Part of the concern centers on the fact that the tape's Arabic soundtrack is=
 unintelligible at times. Accompanying it with a separate English language=
 transcript would raise "questions as to its authenticity," one official=
 said. Arab language experts, including bin Laden supporters in the Middle=
 East, would question "where in the videotape the U.S. says bin Laden said=
 particular statements in the transcript," the official said.

Subtitles added to the videotape, one official said yesterday, would show=
 the English translation of the Arabic that is spoken directly by bin Laden.

A White House official said the administration is evaluating either=
 subtitles or a voice-over translation that could be placed on the=
 videotape. Using a voice-over, however, would cover over the Arabic being=
 spoken, an official said.

Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Ala.), ranking Republican on the Senate intelligence=
 committee, watched the tape yesterday with an English transcript and a=
 translator. He said it showed bin Laden's "culpability in planning and=
 foreknowledge of events so clearly that I don't know how a reasonable=
 person could defend him. The gloating and bragging about what they did on=
 September 11 was disgusting."

=A9 2001 The Washington Post Company=20

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