- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 27, 2001

CAIRO A Qatar-based television station aired a videotape yesterday 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 September 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.
The United States began a bombing campaign against the Taliban and al Qaeda 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 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.
Mr. Hilal said the entire tape runs 33 minutes and will be shown on Al Jazeera today. Only a few minutes were shown on last night's news. The last time the station aired a tape of bin Laden was Nov. 3.
In the tape, bin Laden, who spoke in front of a brown backdrop, a gun propped beside him, also referred 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.
Bin Laden claimed 150 people were killed in the strike, but said Sheik Jalal din Haggani, who is considered a Taliban leader and bin Laden ally, had survived. The Pentagon at the time said it had no information on the casualty.
"All that you hear about mistaken strikes is a lie and a sheer lie," bin Laden said in the tape. "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.
"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 committing 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 no exact quotes.
Meanwhile, Egypt yesterday said a previous tape showing bin Laden rejoicing over the September 11 attacks amounts to a "complete confession." In the first official Egyptian reaction, Interior Minister Habib el Adly, who is in charge of Egyptian civilian security forces, told a weekly magazine that the videotape "is a clear and complete implication of Osama bin Laden, contrary to what he had said earlier about having nothing to do with the attacks."
Many in the Middle East doubted the authenticity of the tape, found by U.S. forces in a house in Kandahar and released by the Pentagon on Dec. 13.
"It is a complete confession that implicates him," Mr. el Adly said.

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