Monday, November 01, 2004

Bin Laden confesses (and gets ignored)

I am a little surprised that most of the discussion of Osama bin Laden's recent videotape (transcript here) has ignored one of the more striking aspects of his message in that videotape. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that bin Laden himself has explicitly acknowledged having planned and carried out the attacks of September 11, 2001. (Other Al Qaeda figures have acknowledged, directly or indirectly, that Al Qaeda was behind the attacks, but never bin Laden himself.)

I suppose that to most Americans (except for conspiracy theorists who believe that the Twin Towers were really brought down by the Israelis, the Bush administration, or whatever), this admission may seem superfluous. And perhaps that's why this detailed confession (or boast) by bin Laden has been so widely overlooked. (Much more attention has been paid to the bits that bin Laden lifted from Michael Moore, his possible impact on the US Presidential election, etc.)

But a great many people all over the world continue to argue that there is no real proof that bin Laden or Al Qaeda had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks. And throughout the Middle East and the wider Islamic world, there is a pervasive tendency simultaneously (a) to express admiration for bin Laden for carrying out the 9/11 attacks, and (b) to deny that he (or any other Muslim) had anything to do with them. [Still true in 2006. --JW] I would assume that maintaining this self-contradictory position should become more difficult after bin Laden's latest videotape (not impossible, human nature being what it is, but more difficult).

Still, that does leave some questions open. For example, why should bin Laden have picked this particular moment to acknowledge his role in the 9/11 attacks and explain his motivations? And, after he publicly confessed to being guilty of the crime of the century, why did this arouse so little attention? (Has the reaction been different in other parts of the world, perhaps? Somehow, I doubt it.)

Jeff Weintraub

Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia
2004 Osama bin Laden video

(Redirected from 2004 bin Laden video)

On October 29, 2004, at 21:00 UTC, the Arab television network Al Jazeera broadcast excerpts from a videotape of Osama bin Laden addressing the people of the United States, in which he admitted responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Although Al Jazeera, which broadcast the footage on its evening newscast, did not disclose the source of the video, sources within the United States intelligence community have confirmed that the speaker, who appears behind a lectern, is indeed bin Laden. By mentioning 2004 U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry by name, the tape would seem to prove that bin Laden was still alive at least mid-way through 2004.

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In the video, which is reported to be 18 minutes in length although only short pieces of it have been broadcast so far, bin Laden appears wearing a turban and a white robe partially covered by a lavish golden mantle, standing in front of an almost featureless brown background and reading his comments from papers resting on a speaker's stand. He moves both of his arms (dispelling rumors that one of them is limp after a wounding) and looks healthy as far as can be told, but a bit older and greyer than in his former tapes. His remarks, in Arabic but addressed to citizens of the United States, instruct them that "the best way to avoid another Manhattan" (a reference to the September 11, 2001 attacks), was to not threaten the security of Muslim nations.

The tape also contains bin Laden's first public acknowledgement of al-Qaeda's involvement in the attacks on the U.S., noting that he first thought about attacking the World Trade Center in 1982, after watching Israeli aircraft bomb Lebanon (during the 1982 Invasion of Lebanon):

"While I was looking at these destroyed towers in Lebanon, it sparked in my mind that the tyrant should be punished with the same and that we should destroy towers in America, so that it tastes what we taste and would be deterred from killing our children and women."

He also admitted for the first time a direct link to the attacks, saying that they were carried out because "we are a free people who do not accept injustice, and we want to regain the freedom of our nation." bin Laden threatened further retaliation against the U.S., noting that the conditions which provoked the 2001 attacks still existed, and compared America to "corrupt" Arab governments.

He dismissed as rhetoric claims by U.S. President George W. Bush that the attacks occurred because Islamic extremists "hate freedom", saying: "If Bush says we hate freedom, let him tell us why we didn't attack Sweden, for example. It is known that those who hate freedom do not have dignified souls, like those of the 19 blessed ones."

Bin Laden further accused U.S. President George W. Bush of misleading the American people during the following three years — "Despite entering the fourth year after September 11, Bush is still deceiving you and hiding the truth from you and therefore the reasons are still there to repeat what happened" — as well as criticizing Bush's actions on the day of the attacks: "It never occurred to us that the Commander-in-Chief of the country would leave 50,000 citizens in the two towers to face those horrors alone because he thought listening to a child discussing her goats was more important."

The release of the tape was reportedly timed to occur just four days before the 2004 U.S. presidential election and bin Laden mentions both of the major contenders, telling Americans: "Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al-Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands and each state which does not harm our security will remain safe."

The United States State Department requested that the government of Qatar discourage al-Jazeera from airing the videotape, a senior State Department official admitted.

[ Etc. ] [....]

See also
Text of 2004 Osama bin Laden videotape
(From Wikisource, a repository for free source texts)

Author:Osama bin Laden

This is the text of the 2004 Osama bin Laden videotape released by al Jazeera TV on October 29, 2004.

"O American people, this is what I have to say about the causes and results (of the September 11, 2001 attacks) and the way to avoid another Manhattan.

"I tell you that security is a major pillar of human life. Free men do not renounce their security, irrespective of (US President) Bush's claims that we hate freedom.

"Let him (Mr. Bush) tell us why we did not attack Sweden, for example. It is obvious that those who hate freedom cannot have the pride of the 19 (September 11 suicide hijackers), God rest their souls. If we fought you, it is because we are free men, we do not ignore values, we want to return freedom to our nation. If you play havoc with our security, we play havoc with yours.

"You astonish me. Despite the fact that we are into the fourth year after September 11, Bush is still misleading you and hiding the real reason from you, which means that the reasons to repeat what happened remain.

"I will tell you about the reasons of these events and about the moments in which the decision (to attack) was taken so you will ponder them. I swear we never thought of attacking the towers, but when we saw the injustice and arbitrariness of the US-Israeli alliance against our brethren in Palestine and Lebanon, it became too much and the idea came to me.

"The events which affected me directly go back to 1982 ... when America gave the Israelis the green light to invade Lebanon, with the backing of the US 6th Fleet. It is difficult to describe what I felt in these painful moments, but it created an overwhelming feeling of refusal of injustice and a compelling determination to punish the unjust.

"As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me that the unjust should suffer the same, that the towers in America must be destroyed so that America gets a taste of what we went through, so that it will stop killing our children and women.

"We did not find it hard to deal with Bush and his administration given the similarity with the regimes in our countries, half of which are governed by soldiers and the other half by the offspring of kings and presidents. We have a long experience with those. Both categories count people who are arrogant, greedy and embezzle (public) funds.

"The similarity began at the time of visits by Bush the father (former US president George Bush) to the region. At a time when some of our kinfolk were impressed by America and hoped that these visits would impact on our countries, it turned out that he was the one affected by these monarchies and military regimes, envying them for keeping their posts tens of years, embezzling public funds without being held accountable or monitored.

"He transferred tyranny and repression of freedoms to his son and they called it a national law (USA PATRIOT Act) under the pretext of combating terrorism.

"Bush's father thought it was a good thing to put his sons to govern states. And he did not forget to transfer (election-)forging skills from the presidents of the region to Florida to use them in critical times.

"We had agreed with (suicide hijacker) Mohammad Atta, God rest his soul, that he finishes all operations in 20 minutes before Bush and his administration take notice.

"It never occurred to us that the commander in chief of the US armed forces would leave 50,000 of his citizens in the two towers to face these horrors alone at a time when they were most in need of him.

"He reckoned that it was more important to preoccupy himself with the talk of the little girl about her goat ... than with the planes and their strike on the skyscrapers, giving us three times the time required to carry out the operations, thanks be to God.

"Your security is not in the hands of (Democratic presidential candidate) John Kerry, Bush or al-Qaida. Your security is in your own hands. Any (presidential) mandate which does not play havoc with our security would automatically ensure its own security."