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[] The wrap: Is it Bin Laden?,


in der Tat, kaum zu glauben, warum die Medien
das alles unreflektiert weiterreichen (nachfolgend
vielleicht doch ein paar kritische stimmen), wo
doch noch vorher von den multiplen Bin Ladens,
den Doppelgaengern des "Scheichs", die Rede
war - der Typ im Video k=F6nnte jedenfalls irgendwer
sein, so schlecht zu erkennen ist das Gesicht.




The wrap: Is it Bin Laden?
Julian Glover

14 December 2001

Welcome to the Wrap, Guardian Unlimited's round-up of today's papers.

In today's Wrap: Bin Laden's video 'confession', Blunkett's climb-down
on anti-terror bill and Manchester man found in Afghan jail


Grainy images of Osama bin Laden fill all the broadsheet front pages
this morning, as the papers examine a video showing the terrorist
leader celebrating the September 11 attacks.

"He had the relaxed manner of the truly world-class psychopath,"
writes Damien Whitworth in the Times, one of many reporters convinced
that the tapes are genuine. "His self-satisfaction oozed like toxic
waste and he was unable to conceal his delight with what he had

"He's incriminated himself," writes Alice Thomson in the Telegraph.
"It was less a video nasty, more terrorism as soap opera."

It is Bin Laden's relaxed manner, as much as the fact of his
confession, that enrages many writers. Bin Laden was "smug" and
"almost languid," says the Independent. "The film ... shows evil Bin
Laden laughing and smirking about the horror," says the Sun. "The
video of a gloating, laughing, mocking Bin Laden is disgusting."

The Mirror - the only tabloid to lead with the story - is more blunt:
"You Gloating Bastard" is the front-page headline.

Both the Times and the Daily Telegraph are particularly enraged by Bin
Laden's boast that his supporters "were overjoyed when the first
plane hit the building, so I said: be patient" - words that the
papers are certain confirms his guilt. The Times' headline sums it
up: "Bin Laden laughs in video confession of twin towers attacks".

Or does he? "A dose of level-headed caution is still in order," argues
the Guardian in a leader. "Bin Laden would only be truly banged to
rights if the video showed him boasting about the attacks before
September 11, rather than afterwards, when in theory any crackpot
with a camcorder could claim responsibility for something that the
whole world now knew about."

"The video," the Guardian continues, "is so audacious and astonishing
that it is impossible not to think that something about it is a
put-up job". Nevertheless, the paper concludes that "the average
rational Muslim" will "be just as persuaded by the evidence of the
video as the average rational non-Muslim."

* Is this the evidence?,11209,618572,00.html
  * Times: Glee of killer raising his hand to the world,,2001570007-2001575074,00.html
  * Telegraph: Now no one can believe that Osama bin Laden didn't do it
  * Mirror: You gloating bastard
  * A very nasty video,3604,618374,00.html


The passing into law of the government's anti-terrorism legislation
came too late to receive substantial coverage in the papers but
several report David Blunkett's climb-down, which ended parliamentary
deadlock over the bill. The Financial Times quotes the home
secretary's speech in which he concedes that he would have to drop
clauses on religious hatred. "I have marched myself to the top of the
hill and am about to march myself down again," he said, referring to
the children's nursery rhyme about the grand old Duke of York.

The Guardian reports that ministers were "shocked" by the scale of
opposition in Lords. In the upper house, it says "debate descended
into chaos". "In the final hours before the deadline set for the
completion of the bill, the home secretary offered three further
confessions," adds the Telegraph. "The measure is now due to get
royal assent today and police could start using some of their new
powers immediately."

* Blunkett saves anti-terror bill,1320,618582,00.html
  * FT: Blunkett ditches key element of anti-terror bill


Several papers appear to have been given advanced sight of the
government's response to this week's conviction of child killer Roy
Whiting. The Sun is sure that David Blunkett will "say no" to a
Sarah's law, which would allow local residents access to police files
on possible offenders. Instead, the paper thinks, "he will tighten
the law to make sure offenders are locked up forever."

The Independent adds that "the reforms are not expected to become law
until 2003". Commenting on the affair, Simon Jenkins is forthright.
Normally, he finds paedophilia "a media obsession. Sexual attacks on
children are rare, less than 20 a year, and few end in murder. Yet
they outrank war, peace and celebrity on front pages".

But in Mr Whiting's case, the columnist has changed his mind.
"Whatever anguish it causes judges, the system must have a means of
keeping such men in custody until medical supervision justifies their
release," he says. "I sense that jurisprudence is in for a rough

* Independent: Ministers and police reject new calls for Sarah's law
  * Sun: Sarah's Law ruled out,,2-2001571555,00.html
  * Times: Sick prisoners need cure and punishment,,248-2001574986,00.html


Today's EU summit in Laeken, Belgium, alarms the more Eurosceptic
papers. The Times ignores the Bin Laden video in its leader column to
alert readers to the fact that: "Before the Convention even meets,
Britain looks set already to have assented at Laeken to massively
important additions to the powers that EU institutions exercise over
British lives."

In particular, the planned European arrest warrant upsets the paper.
It argues that "Britain's embrace of it will be even more fateful for
this country's traditional freedoms than the Maastricht Treaty".

The Sun is no happier. It fears arrest by EU police. "If the Sun
points out that a federal Europe means the destruction of British
liberty, is that xenophobia? If it is, we can be slung in a foreign
jail - with British courts powerless to help."

* Leaders gather for EU's great debate,9061,618393,00.html
  * Times: Blair's Maastricht,,56-2001574979,00.html


Events in Afghanistan have been rather overshadowed this morning, but
two papers, the Times and the Telegraph, find room to interview
foreign prisoners found yesterday in Kandahar and released by
occupying forces. Both papers met Jamal Udin, from Manchester. "He
doesn't speak. He was mentally tortured by the Taliban," the Times
reports a local as saying.

This tragic claim is rather undermined by the Telegraph, which carries
an extensive interview with the same man - named, by the paper, as
Jamal Udeen, a Muslim traveller who claims he stumbled into
Afghanistan by mistake.

As the prison governor tells the Times, "they are telling everyone
different stories".

* Briton is freed from Taliban prison,,2001570007-2001574891,00.html
  * Telegraph: The Koran saved me, says jailed Briton


The government's decision to offer the use of Commons facilities to
Sinn Fein MPs has led to a bitter split between leftwing and
rightwing commentators. In the Mirror, Paul Routledge describes the
change to parliamentary rules as "an eminently sensible decision".
"The more that Republicans are drawn into legitimate politics, the
less likely they are to return to violence". The Guardian agrees in a
leading article. But the rightwing press is horrified.

The Daily Mail gives two pages to what it calls Sinn Fein's
"GBP430,000 bonanza". The move will "turn the British taxpayer into
the nationalist party's biggest single donor," the paper claims. Lord
Tebbit adds that Sinn Fein is to the IRA "what the Taliban has been
to al-Qaida". The Telegraph is no happier. "Although they are happy
to claim all the perks of British citizenship, they want at the same
time to be seen as belonging outside the system."

* No longer alone,9115,618414,00.html
  * Telegraph: Keep Sinn Fein out
* Mirror: It's democracy... Fein and simple


The Financial Times has a blunt warning today for rail travellers.
Breaking the news that John Armitt, the former chief executive of
building group Costain, is to be the new head of Railtrack, the paper
tells the government that "it must act swiftly to end the threat of
further disruption on the railways after its ill-considered decision
to force Railtrack into bankruptcy". The paper urges the transport
secretary, Stephen Byers, to "get his chequebook out and make the
least bad compromise that is left to him - soon".

In a disturbing report on its back page, the paper speaks to a south
London train driver who laments the state of the track. "I travel
over a junction where you can change at 70mph. There's no way I'd do
70mph ... At best I'd do 55 or 60, even then ... at the back of your
mind you think you might end up in a cutting."

* FT: Costain's former chief executive to head Railtrack


The Sun gives both its front and back pages to claims that "dropped
David Beckham is 'spitting blood' over his treatment by Manchester
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson". The paper says that the England
captain wants a showdown with his boss if he is left out of the team
again tomorrow

Other papers pay more attention to England's strong performance in the
second test in India. The Times puts the success down to spinner
Ashley Giles, who has fought injury to take the team close to

* Giles turns the tide away from Tendulkar,10069,618436,00.html
  * Becks fury with Fergie,,2001571560,00.html


The Independent breaks the news to the nation than an era is coming to
an end. Little Chef - the roadside chain of traditional restaurants -
is going upmarket under a fresh name, New Choices. The revamp will
bring "chairs that are not actually bolted to the floor" as well as a
drinks licence. "At 4pm," the paper says "lights will be dimmed,
wineglasses introduced and disposable table cloths laid".

* Independent: Little Chef's special gives hopeless romantics a taste
of true love


 >>> Senior military officials from the major European powers were
meeting in London today to discuss the formation of a military
"stabilisation" force in Afghanistan >>> The 12 British
plane-spotters held in Greek jails were due to be released today

 >>> Correction

Yesterday we wrote that Pat Finucane had been shot by the Ulster
Defence Association. We meant Billy Stobie, the ex-police informer,
who was accused of aiding and abetting the murder of Pat Finucane
before the case collapsed two weeks before his death. Our apologies
for the error.

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