- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2003

From combined dispatches
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Secretary of State Colin L. Powell knew what was on Osama bin Laden's audiotape before it was aired on Al Jazeera television because Qatar gave Washington an advance copy, an Arab envoy said yesterday.
Officials at Qatar's Al Jazeera, which gained international renown for airing messages from bin Laden during the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, declined to comment, saying they obtained the tape "in the same way as previous tapes."
The diplomat told Reuters news agency that the United States and Qatar, home to a key U.S. military command center, had an agreement to share information on any tapes by the Saudi-born bin Laden.
"When Jazeera got the tape, they gave a copy to Qatar, which gave it to the U.S. before it was aired. That is how Powell knew about it," the diplomat said on the condition of anonymity.
The bases in Qatar would be the control center for any war on Iraq, and F-117A Stealth bombers now in the Gulf state are likely to be among the first aircraft to attack.
Qatari officials were not immediately available to comment on the bin Laden tape, which was broadcast Tuesday night.
Al Jazeera initially would not say whether it had a new tape from the fugitive militant, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks on the United States, but then aired it after Mr. Powell sketched its contents.
In the tape, bin Laden urged Muslims to use suicide attacks to stop a U.S. war. He also threatened the United States' Arab allies.
The U.S. Embassy in Qatar's capital, Doha, said it did not know whether or how an advance copy of the tape or a synopsis might have been made available to the State Department.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jo-Anne Prokopowicz declined to comment on the matter, saying: "We do not comment on intelligence-gathering or on sources and methods."
Al Jazeera says it usually gets bin Laden tapes in the mail.
Qatar has described Al Jazeera as a "perpetual headache," but says the channel is an independent, private-sector network that it helps financially in the same way that Britain aids the British Broadcasting Corp.
Al Jazeera's programs, which feature outspoken politicians and dissidents, have angered many Arab states, but Doha has repeatedly said it will not close the channel.
An Al Jazeera documentary on Gulf political heavyweight Saudi Arabia set off a diplomatic dispute between Riyadh and Qatar late last year, in which the Saudis recalled their ambassador.
Meanwhile, reports of a new tape in which bin Laden purportedly says he wants to die a martyr surfaced yesterday.
In London, the British-based Islamic Al-Ansaar news agency said it bought the 53-minute tape during the weekend after discussions with an anonymous Internet seller.
Imran Khan, who runs Al-Ansaar, said he had conferred with experts who agreed the speaker on the tape was the al Qaeda leader.
There was no way to verify the claim.
The voice on the tape says that "before my end, I incite myself and my brothers. … In this final year, I hurl myself and my steed with my soul at the enemy. Indeed on my demise, I will become a martyr," Mr. Khan said.
"I pray my demise isn't on a coffin bearing green mantles. I wish my demise to be in the eagle's belly," the voice continued.
Mr. Khan said the "eagle" was believed to refer to the United States.
In May 2002, Al-Ansaar released a video of bin Laden that it claimed showed he had survived the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. But Al Jazeera said the tape was filmed before the war began.

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