- The Washington Times - Friday, December 14, 2001

Osama bin Laden laughs, bragging like a proud schoolboy who has just scored against a rival team. He describes the attacks on the World Trade Center, overjoyed at the deaths of thousands of innocents. These images, from a videotape released yesterday by the White House, demolish any remaining doubt about bin Laden's guilt. And for those unfamiliar with how religion can be misused in a war, the tape provides a grotesque introduction.

With his hands, bin Laden demonstrates how he envisioned the attack in preplanning stages. "We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all," he brags. "Due to my experience in this field," he says (eerily referring to his role in such attacks as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998), "I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for."

He got more than he hoped for in New York and the support of more Islamic extremists to boot. The tape eerily depicts how evil cloaked as religion becomes unquestioned truth to bin Laden's followers. Again and again, bin Laden asks how various spiritual leaders and mosques in the Muslim world reacted to the attacks. And repeatedly, he is lavished with praise: "In these days, in our times, that it will be the greatest jihad in the history of Islam and the resistance of the wicked people," says an unknown sheikh who dominates the tape. "We congratulate you for the great work. Thank Allah."

The interlocutor is well-versed in bin Laden-style religious brainwashing. In a poignant question and answer session, the sheikh cites proof that the September 11 attack was blessed by Allah, saying that another religious leader had said that "this was jihad and those people [the World Trade Center and Pentagon victims] were not innocent people. He swore to Allah."

As if this is not enough, the sheikh reads a passage from the Koran as further proof of Allah's blessing: "Fight them, Allah will torture them, with your hands, he will torture them. He will deceive them and he will give you victory. Allah will forgive the believers, he is knowledgeable about everything." One wonders how long the sheikh will be around to continue to praise bin Laden's mission. After all, "true believers" are called to death the type of death only bin Laden and his cohorts can plan for them. Bin Laden laughs as he describes the hijackers' "martyrdom operation," a plan that was kept secret from the hijackers until just before they boarded the plane.

Bin Laden's laughter provides focus for America's strength. The tape makes clear that those like him respect no human life and make death man's most glorious purpose. In the face of such blatant evil, America must unify. America has wept. Now it must conquer.

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