Osama bin Laden

Al-Jazeera TV airs bin Laden tape condemning United States


By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF / Associated Press Writer

CAIRO, Egypt – A Qatar-based television station aired a videotape Wednesday of Osama bin Laden, whose statements indicated he was speaking in the first half of December.

Dressed in green military fatigues, a pale and gaunt looking bin Laden referred to the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes, saying he was speaking "three months after the blessed attack against the international infidels and its leaders, the United States, and two months after the beginning of the vicious aggression against Islam."

The Associated Press translated the excerpt broadcast on Al-Jazeera in Arabic.

U.S. began a bombing campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaida positions on Oct. 7. And more recently began hunting bin Laden in the caves of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan. That area came under heavy U.S. bombing during the first week of December. Those attacks tapered off about a week before Christmas and U.S. forces and their allies have been scouring the caves looking for bin Laden.

The terrorist leader's whereabouts are unknown. Several people, including Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, have speculated that he may have been killed in the U.S. bombing of the caves. Others believe he may have slipped away, possibly crossing the border into Pakistan.

The chief editor of Al-Jazeera, Ibrahim Hilal, said his station received the tape "a couple days ago" by an air courier service from Pakistan. The sender was anonymous, he said.

Hilal said the entire tape runs 33 minutes and will be shown on Al-Jazeera on Thursday. Only a few minutes was shown on the Wednesday night news. The last tape of bin Laden the station aired was on Nov. 3.

Bin Laden, who is speaking in front of a brown backdrop, a gun propped up beside him, also refers to the bombing of a mosque in Khost, Afghanistan, saying it happened "several days" before. It was not clear which strike he was referring to, or when he got the news about the mosque being damaged. The U.S. Central Command said an errant U.S. bomb damaged a mosque in the town of Khost on Nov. 16.

"All that you hear about mistaken strikes is a lie and a sheer lie," bin Laden said. "Several days ago, they bombed as, they claimed, 'positions of a Taliban base in Khost' and sent a missile to a mosque and said it was a mistake."

Bin Laden appeared stiff as he spoke. Though left-handed, he gestured only with his right, keeping the left still.

"It is quite clear now that the West, generally speaking, and in particular America, has an indescribable hatred of Islam," he said. "The people who have lived the last months under the continual American air strikes, they know that very well. Many villages were wiped out for no crime and many millions were displaced in this cold weather."

Bin Laden also condemned the United States as a nation that speaks about humanity and freedom but that commits crimes against millions of Afghans.

"Our terrorism against America is a good terrorism to stop the oppressor from commiting unjust acts and to stop America supporting Israel, which is killing our children."

CNN aired a two-sentence portion of the tape shortly after receiving it. Both Fox News Channel and MSNBC showed still pictures from the tape but did not show exact quotes.

In October, the Bush administration urged television executives to use caution in showing tapes of bin Laden for fear he would be sending "hidden messages" to followers.

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