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[infowar.de] WT 19.12.01: Bin Laden Videotape Offered Nothing New
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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