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[] WT 19.12.01: Bin Laden Videotape Offered Nothing New,

Washington Times
December 19, 2001

Bin Laden Videotape Offered Nothing New=20

By Frank J. Murray, The Washington Times

Osama bin Laden's videotaped "confession" is so lacking in new detail not=
 already published that analysts believe he removed himself from day-to-day=
 tactics to avoid tipping intelligence eavesdroppers to the coming calamity.

"The guy is ... evil ... so the fact that he's lying and sort of making up=
 details to fill in the gaps in his knowledge shouldn't surprise anyone," a=
 U.S. intelligence official said Monday.

Except for revealing his own thoughts, bin Laden added no facts in his=
 extraordinary videotaped conversation that the Bush administration released=
 last week with English and Arabic versions of its captions.

The al Qaeda leader mentioned no accomplices not already identified, no=
 amounts of money, locations or any specific logistic detail that would=
 clarify what U.S. investigators ferreted out in the first few days after=
 September 11. Everything he said echoed stories in print and on CNN.

Particularly revealing was bin Laden's disclosure that he did not control=
 the timing of attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

"We had notification since the previous Thursday that the event would take=
 place that day," bin Laden said in disclosing he learned of the timing on=
 Sept. 6, five days before his men killed thousands of people.

Justice Department officials believe the hijackers' attacks originally were=
 timed to coincide with scheduled sentencings in New York on Sept. 12 and=
 Sept. 19 of those convicted in the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and=
 Tanzania. Sentencing was postponed just minutes before the September 11=
 attacks =97 too late, they say.

"Bin Laden knew the plan, was intimately involved in what the plan was, its=
 objectives, methods, and preparation but the final instructions didn't come=
 down from some cave in Afghanistan," the intelligence official said.

"What it tells you is that they have been very good about not spreading=
 information about their plans even in [bin Laden=B4s] own network," said=
 the official who suggested such messages could sound benign by mentioning=
 the date a "birthday package" would arrive.

Albert Krieger, of Miami, past president of the National Association of=
 Criminal Defense Lawyers, said bin Laden seemed to use the tone that he=
 said gangsters affect when they call crimes "hypothetical" to guard against=

"He's obviously not having a confidential communication with someone to whom=
 he's going to be giving orders or setting up a grand plan," Mr. Krieger=
 said, pointing out bin Laden knew the camera captured every word and=

"This is a piece of propaganda for publication and use among those with whom=
 he networks," Mr. Krieger said Monday. "I think references to 'dreams' were=
 his way to tell more spiritual loyalists they can stop denying it and go=
 ahead and say it now."

Few U.S. officials would venture to discuss the contents of bin Laden's=
 incriminating admission that he estimated civilian casualties in advance,=
 deceived disciples about his sneak-attack strategy, and relived his joy=
 while hearing the first broadcast news.

"It is what it is," said a CIA spokesman who stuck to the official=
 administration line of not commenting.

"We'll let the tape speak for itself," a Defense Department aide said.

But the tape does not explain references to a gathering of 50 or 60 people=
 with bin Laden the evening of September 11 when the al Qaeda leader says he=
 chose to hear radio reports at 5:30 p.m. (9 a.m. Washington time) rather=
 than watch television images of the New York carnage.

BBC spokesman Josh Weinberg confirmed that his network's World Service broke=
 into shortwave radio reports with the news of the first plane crash just=
 after 5:30 p.m. in Kabul, where three of every four Afghans depended on the=
 BBC for news.

An Al Jazeera employee in Washington denied suggestions her Qatar-based=
 satellite television network put subtitles on its report that would link=
 the attacks either to bin Laden or to his references to vengeance for=

The U.S. videotape translation quoted bin Laden's visitor as saying a video=
 subtitle read, "In revenge for the children of Al Aqsa, Osama bin Laden=
 executes an operation against America."

The U.S. intelligence official did not contradict the Al Jazeera worker's=
 claim that it never appeared.

"A lot of stuff is sort of being merged together in memories, an hour later=
 or a day later," the official said.

"The real message here is that the tape explains how tightly compartmented=
 they keep everything. His right-hand man sitting next to him didn't know=
 about it," the intelligence official said.=20

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