Monday, March 07, 2005

Weekly ABC Pics
U.S.: 'Absurd' to think troops targeted Italian
Wounded reporter suggests shooting in Iraq was deliberate
MSNBC News Services
Updated: 11:45 a.m. ET March 7, 2005
WASHINGTON - The White House on Monday said it was “absurd” for an Italian journalist to charge that U.S. military forces may have deliberately targeted her car as she was being escorted by Italian agents who had just negotiated her freedom from hostage-takers.
White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the car carrying Giuliana Sgrena was traveling on one of the most dangerous roads in Iraq on Friday when it was fired upon. An Italian intelligence officer in the car was shot and killed.
Responding to Sgrena’s statement that the car may have been deliberately targeted, McClellan said. “It’s absurd to make any such suggestion, that our men and women in uniform would deliberately target innocent citizens."
“That’s just absurd,” McClellan repeated.
He said the airport road “has been a place where suicide car bombers have launched attacks. It’s been a place where regime elements have fired upon coalition forces. It is a dangerous road and it is a combat zone that our coalition forces are in. Oftentimes, they have to make split second decisions to protect their own security.”
“And we regret this incident,” McClellan added. “We are going to fully investigate what exactly occurred.”
Reporter's comments
Sgrena — who works for the communist newspaper Il Manifesto, a fierce opponent of the war and a frequent critic of U.S. policy — said it was possible they were targeted deliberately because the United States opposes Italy’s policy of negotiating with kidnappers.
In an interview published Monday in the Corriere della Sera newspaper, she said she doesn’t know what led to the attack.
“I believe, but it’s only a hypothesis, that the happy ending to the negotiations must have been irksome,” she said. “The Americans are against this type of operation. For them, war is war, human life doesn’t count for much.”
In separate remarks Sunday, she said that “the fact that the Americans don’t want negotiations to free the hostages is known.”
“The fact that they do everything to prevent the adoption of this practice to save the lives of people held hostage, everybody knows that,” she added, speaking to Sky TG24 television by telephone from his hospital bed, where she is recovering from a shrapnel wound. “So I don’t see why I should rule out that I could have been the target.”
Rescue details unknown
The White House earlier described the shooting as a “horrific accident” and promised a full investigation. But Sgrena and an Italian agent who survived rejected the U.S. military’s account of the shooting, claiming that American soldiers gave no warning before they opened fire.
The shooting has fueled anti-American sentiment in Italy, where a majority of people opposed the war in Iraq and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s decision to send 3,000 troops after Saddam Hussein’s ouster.
Neither Italian nor U.S. officials gave details about how authorities won Sgrena’s release after a month in captivity. But Agriculture Minister Giovanni Alemanno was quoted as saying it was “very probable” a ransom was paid. U.S. officials have cautioned against ransoms, saying they encourage further kidnappings.
Sgrena said she knew nothing about a ransom.
In an article Sunday, Sgrena said her captors warned her shortly before her release to beware of the Americans. She later told Italian state TV RAI that “when they let me go, it was a difficult moment for me because they told me, ‘The Americans don’t want you to return alive to Italy.”’ She didn’t elaborate.
Italian ministers have rejected Sgrena’s claim that she might have been deliberately shot at, but they fear any hint of a U.S. whitewash will inflame anti-American sentiment in Italy.
“What has happened cannot be used as an alibi to revive anti-Americanism,” said the powerful speaker of the lower house of parliament, Pier Ferdinando Casini. “(But) friendship can never be servitude and for this reason we have to ask with determination to have the truth and clarity,” he told La Repubblica newspaper.
State funeral for agent
Monday also saw hundreds of people pack into a church in Rome to pay their last respects to the officer killed, Nicola Calipari.
U.S. Ambassador Mel Sembler joined Berlusconi and other Italian dignitaries at the state funeral.
Mourners stood as an honor guard slowly carried the casket, draped with an Italian flag, into Santa Maria degli Angeli Church. In the front row, Calipari’s relatives gripped each other’s hands and dabbed away tears.
“He died as a hero, and I cannot forget he had also helped to free us,” Maurizio Agliana, one of four Italian security guards kidnapped in Iraq last April, told the crowd.
The body was returned from Iraq late Saturday. Tens of thousands of people viewed it Sunday while it lay in state at Rome’s Vittoriano monument.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Thought for the Day

(hat tip to Orlin Grabbe -

Underneath all the so-called problems, lies that fuel called fear: fear of rejection, fear of dying, fear of falling, fear of not being good enough. Whatever you tag it, it still comes out fear. Fear is what makes the field fertile for the "planting" of hypnotic suggestions which result in behavior labeled by some psychiatrists and psychologists as neurotic, psychotic, paranoid, manic depressive and, in rare cases, normal. There was a case reported some years back of a young woman who couldn't say no. She was labeled nymphomaniac. Hypnosis revealed that as a child she was expected to obey without question. Her mother would fly into rages if she didn't. One day, she said no to her mother. Her mother beat her and she fell back into a stove and was burned by hot water, while her mother screamed, "Don't you ever say no!" As a young woman, whenever a man asked her for sex, she would always say yes. Without even knowing why, the fear of saying no was so great, she carried out the hypnotic suggestion by saying yes. Remember the young man who, everytime he gets close to being better than his father, blows it by getting himself fired. He too was responding due to his fear and the suggestion of the past. The cast of characters is different but the story (and the monster called fear) is the same.

—Steven Heller, PhD, and Terry Steele, Monsters and Magical Sticks: There's no such thing as hypnosis?

Link may not work, retrieved from cache within google, Wonkette took picture down, but bgtruth sees nothing wrong with posting...

AP Linked to Disinfo on Sgrena's Story of Shooting

Bin Laden: "I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States

Did Israel Attack America On Sept. 11? Part 1


Me, Art Bell, and 9-11
by Lisa Guliani

Art Bell sent a clear message to his faithful listeners, and it wasn't a nice one: if you don't buy the government's line on 9-11, you're a loony

Bin Laden Thoughts / Timeline

My Commentary:

I have made several posts about bin Laden being deceased. I don't know anything for sure. Based on everything I can tell, bin Laden is / was behind inciting various "terrorist" attacks. I don't believe that he had foreknowledge of 9/11, and I think he was only loosely associated with the other attacks that have been attributed to him.

I do think, contrary to the assertion of a few 911 Truth advocates, that Al Qaida and bin Laden are more that just creations or assets of Western Intelligence Agencies such as the CIA
As to how many bin Laden videos and audio tapes have been faked, that knowledge is held, most likely, by a precious few individuals.
Timeline of Al-Qaida statements
Messages via audio and video tapes since 1995
MSNBC and NBC News
Updated: 10:56 a.m. ET Dec. 16, 2004
Statements by key al-Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and their associates, most notably, al-Qaida spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith and Rifa’I Taha Musa, former head of the Egyptian Islamic Group’s military wing.
-- August 1995
Osama bin Laden writes an open letter to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia calling for a campaign of guerrilla attacks to drive U.S forces out of the kingdom. The letter is widely circulated in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
--November 1996
Gwynne Roberts conducts an interview of bin Laden for the British documentary program “Dispatches.” Bin Laden threatens to wage an Islamic holy war against the United States and its allies if Washington does not remove its troops from the Gulf region.
--Aug. 10, 1997
In a video interview with CNN's Peter Arnett, bin Laden praises the bombing of the Khobar Towers U.S. barracks in Saudi Arabia. He tells Arnett that "if the American government is serious about avoiding explosions inside the U.S., then let it stop provoking the feelings of 1,250 million Muslims."
--Feb. 28, 1998
In a fatwa entitled, "Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders World Islamic Front Statement," bin Laden announces the formation of a coalition of Islamic groups, including Egyptian Islamic Jihad led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, and calls for the killing of Americans worldwide. In the fatwa, bin Laden states: "To kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque [Jerusalem] and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim." Al-Zawahiri becomes No. 2 in al-Qaida and a number of Egyptians prominent in EIJ become al-Qaida leaders.
--May 28, 1998 [Contemporaneous]
In a video interview with ABC's John Miller, bin Laden praises Ramzi Yousef and Wali Khan Amin Shah, convicted in the "Day of Hate" airliner bombing plot -- which sought to blow up 11 U.S. commercial aircraft in one day -- saying "America will see many youths who will follow Ramzi Yousef." Bin Laden also praises the bombers of the Khobar Towers. "We predict a black day for America and the end of the United States as United States ... Allah willing." Bin Laden’s military commander, Mohammed Atef, also is seen on the tape.
--Aug. 6, 1998 [Contemporaneous]
Al-Zawahiri sends a statement to a London-based Arabic newspaper saying, "We are interested in briefly telling the Americans that their messages have been received and that the response, which we hope they will read carefully, is being readied."
--Dec. 22, 1998 [Contemporaneous]
In an interview with Rahimullah Yusufzai, a Pakistani journalist who reports for The News of Pakistan, as well as Time Magazine, bin Laden discusses the embassy bombing attacks as well as other issues. He does not confirm a role in any of the recent bombings, but in response to Yusufzai, says: “My answer is that I understand the motives of the brothers who act against the enemies of the nation. When it becomes apparent that it would be impossible to repel these Americans without assaulting them, even if this involved the killing of Muslims, this is permissible under Islam.” He also calls it the duty of Muslims to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
--Jan. 15, 1999 [Contemporaneous]
In an interview with al-Jazeera, bin Laden praises those who carried out the August 1998 Africa embassy bombings, saying the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, was hit "because it was the major U.S. intelligence center in East Africa."
--June 10, 1999
In a broadcast of new elements from the January interview, al-Jazeera shows bin Laden telling their interviewer that American civilians are prime targets because they support killing Muslims through their tax payments. The interview represents his broadest rationale for killing Americans. “Jihad now knows that with few weapons and people they destroyed the biggest war machine in Afghanistan. In our opinion, a superpower means nothing. The U.S. is much weaker than the Soviet Union was. We've learned from our Somali brothers how weak and cowardly American soldiers are. They lost only 80 people and they fled. “I look at the great men who attacked Khobar and Riyadh with great respect, those who made the explosions in Riyadh, Khobar, East Africa and young Palestinians who are giving the Israelis a lesson.
“A man is considered a fighter whether he carries a gun or pays taxes to help kill us. So when they say bin Laden kills civilians, who are they killing in Palestine? Children. Our aim is that every American man is an enemy whether he kills us or pays taxes to kill us. The U.S. has a double standard...75 percent of the American people support Clinton hitting Saddam Hussein. It is a nation where the president’s rating goes up when he kills civilians.”
--Sept. 20, 2000 [Shot between March and May]
Video tape shown on al-Jazeera of bin Laden and three Egyptian clerics calling for the release of Omar Abdul Rahman, the blind sheik imprisoned in the United States. It's believed to have been filmed sometime between March and May 2000. Also seen on the tape are Ayman al-Zawahiri, Rifai Ahmad Taha, a leading figure in the armed Egyptian group, Jamaa Islamiya, and Assad Allah, son of Sheikh Abdel Rahman. Shown on Al-Jazeera, al-Zawahiri warns at the end of the videotape, "Enough of words. It is time to take action against the iniquitous and faithless force which has spread troops through Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia."
--Oct. 18, 2000
Six days after the bombing of the USS Cole, Rifa'i Ahmad Taha, a leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group, calls for launching attacks on U.S. interests in the region. "Our officers and soldiers, and the sons of our people in Egypt, should learn the lesson of the U.S. destroyer in Aden; they have the Suez Canal through which dozens of U.S. and Jewish ships pass. “They [Jews and Americans] must realize that we have no other option but to besiege their embassies and military and civilian centers in our countries, which are numerous...let the embassies and centers be burned down, ships and destroyers destroyed and individuals killed.”
--Jan. 10, 2001 [Contemporaneous]
Video tape of bin Laden celebrating the marriage of his teenage son, Mohammed, to the daughter of Mohammed Atef, his military commander. The tape was shot the previous day in Afghanistan. Also seen on the tape are Atef and Mohammed bin Laden.
--June 20, 2001 [Shot at various times and locations]
A 98-minute al-Qaida training video tape believed to have been shot at various times -- but after the USS Cole bombing in October 2000 and before the U.S. presidential inauguration in January 2001 -- is distributed by Associated Press Television News and Reuters. On it, bin Laden praises the bombers of the USS Cole, "The courage of our youth was witnessed in Aden, where they destroyed their destroyer and instilled fear. ... Their ships stand so arrogantly in our ports."
--Oct. 4, 2001 [Shot in June]
The al-Qaida graduation ceremony tape. Al-Jazeera reports the video tape was made after the Sept. 11 attacks, but U.S. intelligence says it was shot in June 2001 to celebrate the merger of al-Qaida and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Also seen on the tape is the EIJ leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The tape appears to have been broadcast to assure his followers that he is still alive, a move that is repeated often over the next two years.
--Oct. 7, 2001 [Shot in late September/early October]
A threatening video tape released at the start of the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and shown on al-Jazeera. It is believed to have been shot in late September or early October. Also on tape are bin Laden spokesman Abu Ghaith, al-Zawahiri, and Mohammed Atef, bin Laden's military commander. Abu Ghaith, a Kuwaiti, was unknown to U.S. intelligence prior to this tape.
--Oct. 21, 2001 [Never aired on al-Jazeera, aired on CNN on Feb 5. 2002]
In a controversial interview with al-Jazeera reporter Tayseer Alouni -- later indicted as a messenger for bin Laden -- the bin Laden makes threats against the United States and says the United States will be easier to defeat in Afghanistan than the Soviets. "We experienced the Americans through our brothers who went into combat against them in Somalia, for example. We found they had no power worthy of mention. There was a huge aura over America -- the United States -- that terrified people even before they entered combat. Our brothers who were here in Afghanistan tested them, and together with some of the mujahedeen in Somalia, God granted them victory. America exited dragging its tails in failure, defeat, and ruin, caring for nothing." The tape never airs on Al Jazeera, which apparently thought it was too incendiary. CNN obtains it in February and airs it internationally.
--Nov. 3, 2001 [Shot late October/early November]
Bin Laden, dressed in camouflage and armed with an AK-47, says in a video tape aired by al-Jazeera that Afghanistan is in a religious war. "The people of Afghanistan had nothing to do with this matter. The campaign, however, continues to unjustly annihilate the villagers and civilians, children, women and innocent people." There's no indication of when the tape was shot, but almost certainly it was within weeks, if not days, prior to its release, since it refers to the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan.
--Nov. 7, 2001 [Contemporaneous]
Several of bin Laden's sons, the oldest being Hamza, then age 8, play in the wreckage of a downed U.S. helicopter, believed to have been shot in October. The tape is shown on al-Jazeera. Video later shows up as part of a video tape the U.S. government releases in December 2001.
--Nov. 7, 2001 [Published Nov. 10, 2001]
In his first print interview after the Sept. 11 attacks, bin Laden speaks with Hamid Mir of Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper. In the interview, bin Laden says, "We have chemical and nuclear weapons as a deterrent and if America used them against us we reserve the right to use them." Al-Zawahiri is seated with him during the interview. Bin Laden does not take responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks, but defends the hijackers' actions: "The mission is to spread the word of God, not to indulge massacring people. We ourselves are the target of killings, destruction and atrocities. We are only defending ourselves. This is defensive jihad. We want to defend our people and our land. That is why I say that if we don't get security, the Americans, too would not get security."
--Dec. 12, 2001 [Shot around Nov. 9]
The CIA releases the "Dinner Party Tape" in which bin Laden describes planning for the Sept. 11 attacks, noting among other things the final order was given the "Thursday before," meaning Sept. 6. The video tape is the first in which bin Laden takes responsibility for the attacks. It was shot in November, possibly Nov. 9, 2001, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It is released by the U.S. government to all broadcasters. Also on tape is Khaled al-Harbi, a Saudi cleric.
--Dec. 27, 2001 [Shot late November]
The "Gaunt Tape," so named because bin Laden is haggard and doesn't move his left arm, is believed to have been recorded in late November 2001, probably around Nov. 19. On the video tape, bin Laden refers to the U.S. bombing of a mosque in Khost "several days" earlier. (The United States bombed a mosque in Khost on Nov. 16). Al-Jazeera airs the tape.
--Feb. 21, 2002
Pakistani police confirm that a video showing the beheading of Daniel Pearl has been circulating on the Internet, confirming Pearl’s death for the first time. The video shows Pearl discussing his Jewish roots, his visits to Israel, followed by graphic video of his beheading, apparently at the hands of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. Mohammed is also believed to have been responsible for the video’s production and distribution.
--April 17-18, 2002 [Shot in October 2001]
The "Riverside tape," believed shot in October 2001, is shown on Arabic language broadcasters MBC and al-Jazeera in slightly different versions. On this tape, bin Laden praises the effects the Sept. 11 attacks had on the U.S. economy. Also on tape is Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's chief lieutenant, while several suicide bombers appear on the MBC tape.
--Oct. 9, 2002 [Contemporaneous]
Al-Zawahiri tape threatens attacks on the United States, its economy and allies. "I promise you that the Islamic youth are preparing for you what will fill your hearts with horror," he says. It is unclear if the tape was recorded prior to the attacks on the Marines in Kuwait a day earlier.
--Nov. 12, 2002 [Contemporaneous]
Bin Laden, in an audiotape, calls President Bush the "pharaoh of this age" and lists recent attacks in a statement carried on al-Jazeera. Specifically, he notes: "The incidents that have taken place since the raids on New York and Washington up until now -- like the killing of Germans in Tunisia and the French in Karachi, the bombing of the giant French tanker in Yemen, the killing of Marines in Failaka [in Kuwait] and the British and Australians in the Bali explosions, the recent operation in Moscow and some sporadic operations here and there -- are only reactions and reciprocal actions." It is the first bin Laden message that can be dated in nearly a year.
--Feb. 11, 2003 [Contemporaneous]
Bin Laden criticizes U.S. plans for war on Iraq, citing Baghdad's historical role as a capital of Islam. In the audio statement, carried on al-Jazeera, bin Laden states: "We are following up with great interest and extreme concern the crusaders' preparations for war to occupy a former capital of Islam, loot Muslims' wealth, and install an agent government, which would be a satellite for its masters in Washington and Tel Aviv, just like all the other treasonous and agent Arab governments."
--Feb. 16, 2003 [Contemporaneous]
Entitled, bin Laden's “Sermon for the Feast of the Sacrifice,” the audio statement broadcast on al-Jazeera criticizes Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair for planning their war on Iraq. Bin Laden states the two leaders' plans do not end with Iraq. "The preparations under way at present for an attack upon Iraq are but one link in a chain of attacks -- [currently] in preparation -- on the countries of the region, including Syria, Iran, Egypt and Sudan. However, the preparations for the division of the Land of the Two Holy Places [i.e., Saudi Arabia] constitutes the main part of their plan. This, we know, is a long-standing strategic aim [which has existed] ever since [Saudi Arabia] transferred its dependence from Great Britain to the United States six decades ago."
--April 8, 2003 [Contemporaneous]
On the eve of the U.S. victory in Iraq, bin Laden urges suicide attacks and calls on Muslims to rise up against Arab governments that support the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. In the tape, bin Laden urges the faithful to attack governments in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Unlike previous recording allegedly by bin Laden, this audio tape has a single theme -- suicide attacks.
--May 23, 2003 [Contemporaneous]
Al-Zawahiri, in an audiotape aired on various radio and television outlets in the Middle East, tells Muslims to "burn the ground under their feet, as they should not enjoy your protection...Expel those criminals out of your country.” He also condemns Saudi and other Arab governments and concludes, "The coming days will bring to you news that will heal your hearts"
--July 2003 [Contemporaneous]
Several Islamist websites publish a "new Bin Laden speech," which attacks Saudi clerics and other Muslims for failing to join his jihad against the West. The audiotape is 90 minutes long and most of it is devoted to attacking Saudi clerics who support the ruling royal family, but also other "tyrants" in the region. It cannot be dated much beyond the fall of the Taliban regime in November 2001.
--Sept. 10, 2003 [Most likely shot 2001]
A combined audio and videotape showing bin Laden walking down a mountain path with Ayman al Zawahiri is broadcast on al-Jazeera. U.S. officials note that the audio from bin Laden does not make any references to current events, while al-Zawahiri does; indicating the bin Laden audio was old. U.S. intelligence also believes the video was dated.
--Sept. 29, 2003 [Contemporaneous]
In an audio tape played on Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya television, Ayman Zawahiri called Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf a "traitor" for helping US-led forces topple the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, for considering sending troops to Iraq and for considering recognizing Israel. "Muslims in Pakistan must unite and cooperate to topple this traitor and install a sincere leadership that would defend Islam and Muslims," said Zawahiri.
--Oct. 18, 2003
Al Jazeera broadcasts two audiotapes said to be made by bin Laden, vowing more suicide attacks inside and outside the United States and demanding that the United States withdraw from Iraq. "We, God willing, will continue to fight you and will continue martyrdom operations inside and outside the United States until you abandon your oppression and foolish acts," said bin Laden, referring to suicide attacks.
--Oct. 18, 2003
Al-Qaida releases a new videotape message related to the May 2003 attack in Riyadh. On the 45-minute tape, made available on several websites friendly to the group, is an audio recording of the attack on U.S. and British housing in the Saudi capital. Also on the tape: What appears to be new images of Bin Laden...and 4 terrorists killed in the bombing...two speaking English for the first time on tape. One of them, Hazem Al-Kashmiri, claims to be the son of a former major general in Saudi intelligence. He says, "We promise that we will not let you live safely and will not see anything else from us: just bombs, fires, destroying homes, cutting your heads. A second terrorist, Mohammed Al Moqeet, adds, "Stop killing Muslims or we will kill you as you are killing Muslims.”
--Jan. 4, 2004
Al Jazeera broadcasts an audiotape in which bin Laden blasts the "occupation of the crusaders" in Iraq, which he claims is part of a conspiracy to occupy the entire Gulf region. It also makes reference to the arrest of Saddam Hussein the previous month in Iraq.
--April 15, 2004
Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya broadcast an alleged audiotape from bin Laden in which he offers a "truce" to European nations as long as they withdraw troops from Islamic countries and stop attacking Muslims. The tape blasts the United States and Israel, vowing revenge for Israel's assassination of Hamas leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin. Bin Laden makes specific reference to the 9/11 attacks and the March 11, 2004 bombings in Madrid, saying what happened "was your goods delivered back to you.”
--May 31, 2004
Abdulaziz Issa Abdul-Mohsin al-Moqrin, who identifies himself as al-Qaida’s chief in the Saudi region, claims responsibility for a deadly attack in the kingdom’s oil hub on a tape posted on the Internet. The unauthenticated tape was posted on a site known for militant Muslim comment along with a written statement about the attack that was characterized by contempt for non-Muslims.
--Sept. 9, 2004
In a videotape, Ayman al-Zawahiri says that fighters in Iraq have "turned America's plan upside down" and says that the the mujahadeen in Iraq and Afghanistan will defeat the United States.
--Oct. 1, 2004
In an audio message, Ayman al-Zawahiri urges Muslims to mount worldwide resistance to the American "crusaders" and its allies. His lists of allies include Britain, Poland, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
--Oct. 29, 2004
In a message seemingly timed to the runup to the U.S. presidential election, a healthy looking bin Laden warns Americans that “your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al-Qaida. Your security is in your own hands."
--Nov. 29, 2004
In a videotape that seemed to have been recorded before the U.S. election, Ayman al-Zawahiri warns that America must change its policies toward the Muslim world, no matter who is elected president.
--Dec. 16, 2004
In an audio tape released via an Islamic website, Osama bin Laden praises an attack earlier this month on a U.S. Consulate in Saudi Arabia and criticizes the Saudi regime as weak and controlled by the United States.
Compiled by NBC's Robert Windrem, MSNBC research

Slip of tongue in interview 'betrays secret that bin Laden is dead' By Dominic Kennedy

A SLIP of the tongue by one of Osama bin Laden’s top henchmen seems to have betrayed al-Qaeda’s most potent secret: its charismatic leader is dead. The blunder was made by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has confessed to being the operational mastermind behind the September 11 attacks. He made his mistake while disclosing many of the secrets behind the atrocities, which were plotted in Kandahar, the religious extremist Taleban movement’s Afghan spiritual home. The target of the fourth, thwarted hijack attack in Washington was Congress, not the White House; the original plan was to crash aircraft into atomic power stations; and the plotters used simple codes to keep in touch by internet, he disclosed. Mr Mohammed was speaking in a propaganda exercise organised by al-Qaeda in time for the first anniversary of September 11. A television journalist from al-Jazeera, the Arabic satellite television station that has previously broadcast exclusive footage of bin Laden, was blindfolded and taken to meet two al-Qaeda chiefs. During two days of interviews, Mr Mohammed referred to bin Laden, who has not been seen since the fall of Afghanistan’s Taleban regime, in the past tense. The reporter Yosri Fouda, London bureau chief for al-Jazeera, concluded that bin Laden is now likely to be dead. The journalist was taken to the Pakistan city of Karachi, driven five miles into the countryside, blindfolded, then brought to a clandestine rendezvous on the fourth floor of a sparsely furnished flat. He believes that it was in Karachi. There he met Mr Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a former flatmate of Mohamed Atta, the hijack ringleader. Mr bin al-Shibh is a suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole, when 17 sailors were killed in the port city of Aden in Yemen in October 2000. He described himself as head of al-Qaeda’s military committee. The two men spoke of September 11 as “Holy Tuesday”. They described the attacks using the Arabic word ghazwah, which means a raid against enemies of the Prophet, Mr Fouda wrote in The Sunday Times. It had taken 2½ years to plan the attacks, the men disclosed. Al-Qaeda’s military committee had decided there must be a “martyrdom operation” inside America. Nuclear targets were the first choice, but they were ruled out for now, Mr Mohammed said. The hijackers were recruited from al-Qaeda’s “Department of Martyrs”, which still has scores of volunteers for future suicide attacks, the men claimed. Atta, an al-Qaeda sleeper agent studying town planning in Hamburg since 1992, was chosen as a pilot and Nawaf al-Hazemi as his second-in-command. Mr bin al-Shibh wanted to be the twentieth hijacker. He applied for a visa for flight training three times, but was turned down on security grounds. Questions are likely to be asked over whether alarm bells should have sounded in the United States over such a suspicious individual being so keen to go to America to learn to fly. The leading hijackers were summoned to Kandahar for a shura or council meeting. Four advance reconnaissance units were sent to America. The chosen pilots enrolled in US flight schools. Meanwhile, young Saudi volunteers were picked to act as “muscle” in the hijacking of the aircraft. “They knew it was a martyrdom operation, but did not know the details,” Mr Mohammed said. As investigators have long suspected, the plotters did use the internet to communicate, the men confirmed. Using a chatroom, Atta sent messages in German from America, posing as a student, to “Jenny”, his fictitious girlfriend. The real recipient was Mr bin al-Shibh. In al-Qaeda’s code the World Trade Centre was “the faculty of town planning” (Atta hated skyscrapers, preferring traditional Islamic architecture), the Pentagon was “the faculty of fine arts” and Congress was the “faculty of law”. In a final telephone call Atta told Mr bin al-Shibh the chosen date for the attacks. “Two sticks, a dash and a cake with a stick down”, he said, meaning 11/9. The news reached bin Laden on September 6, giving him only five days’ warning of the horrors. Mr Mohammed’s slip of the tongue about bin Laden’s demise was a serious lapse. Throughout their discussions with the reporter, al-Qaeda operatives persistently sought to suggest that their leader was still alive, well and keenly following events. One intermediary told the journalist that bin Laden remained an avid viewer of al-Jazeera, so much so that “whatever he misses, he gets on tape”. Al-Qaeda’s decision to bring a reporter from al-Jazeera to meet two of bin Laden’s generals rather than the man himself adds to the impression that their leader may be no more. The satellite channel has previously been trusted with interviewing bin Laden in person, in 1997 and 1998. Mr Fouda was also suspicious when al-Qaeda failed to send him videotapes of the interviews, as promised, although audiotapes did arrive. “I am driven to the interpretation that something is wrong with the upper reaches of al-Qaeda — some sort of disruption. I now believe it is more than likely bin Laden is dead,” he said.

Bin Laden, Dead?
A Chinese report says so.
By Kathryn Jean Lopez, NRO Executive Editor
October 25, 2001 12:10 p.m.
ames S. Robbins, a professor of international relations at the National Defense University's School for National Defense Studies & NRO contributor. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of NDU, the Department of Defense, or the government of the United States.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: There are reports on the Internet and in a Japanese newspaper that Mullah Mohammed Omar and Osama bin Laden are dead. Where are these coming from and should we have any reason to believe them — over, say, the claims of the Taliban?
James S. Robbins: On October 24 a Chinese internet news site, Zhongxin Wang , ran a piece describing in detail the purported assassination of Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar by members of their retinue at an underground base near Kandahar on October 16. They were both shot twice in the back. One of bin Laden's sons and two of Omar's were also killed. The story was picked up today by the Tokyo-based Yomiuru Shimbun, the largest daily newspaper in Japan. Of course rumors and war go hand in hand, and without proof one way or another what is one to think?
Lopez: Last week there was a meeting in Afghanistan with top Taliban leaders after which they announced that the Taliban would fight under other leaders if Mullah Omar dies. This meeting began on October 16, the day this Chinese site claims Omar was shot. Coincidence?
Robbins: Well, there were some strange things going on in Afghanistan last week. The Pakistani press reported that Mullah Omar had convened a Shura (council meeting) in Kandahar on the 16th of more than 100 Taliban commanders. This alone strikes one as unusual. How could they get to Kandahar safely? And, once there, wouldn't they present a perfect target for the allied forces? Maybe they were — the meeting lasted until the 19th, which was the day of the U.S. Ranger raid on Kandahar. When the Shura ended the Taliban issued some odd comments. For example, they "advised" Mullah Omar to "control the command of the Taliban army by remaining underground," and also "directed Usama bin Ladin and his associates to remain underground." They also set up a line of succession should Omar be "martyred," and "expressed their determination to remain united until the end, even after their leader is martyred." It might sound like prudent planning to establish a line of succession — the United States has one for example — but in an authoritarian regime it is rare. Usually it amounts to a death sentence for the person tapped as the successor. In this case four Taliban commanders were named as possible successors — which could mean that the Shura could not decide on a single successor, and a power struggle is underway. The AP report of the arrest of 100 people in Kandahar also fits the puzzle.
And one more thing to consider: On Oct. 16, Taliban Corps Commander Mullah Muhammad Akhtar Usmani, one of the people named as a possible successor to Omar, made a lengthy statement that Omar and his family were "safe at their residence" and "completely unharmed." But no one had claimed otherwise.
Lopez: What would be a possible motivation for the Taliban to kill either Mullah Omar or Osama bin Laden? And if they did, why wouldn't they come right out and blame it on us, possibly, even inciting international calls for the U.S. to end the strikes on Afghanistan?
Robbins: Motives are hard to judge. The assassins were clearly on a suicide mission. We can't know for whom they were working; maybe they were just Afghan patriots. The alleged attack coincided with an unscheduled meeting between Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakkil (another of the possible successors and a so-called "moderate") and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. It was rumored that Mutawakkil was defecting, but he returned to Afghanistan. Not much has been heard of him since he pledged "complete trust in the leadership of Mullah Omar" in an interview on al Jazeera television October 19. It is satisfying to think that Omar and bin Laden are dead, and we should know soon if this is true. This kind of thing can't stay secret for long. If they are dead then we can assume that the faction that killed them has been expunged and the Taliban has decided to fight on — otherwise they would have announced the martyrdom, no doubt fighting the American invaders or some such thing. If they aren't dead, this could be disinformation, but by whom and for what purpose is unclear. It hardly benefits the Taliban for these stories to get out. I think they should be asked demonstrate unequivocally that they are alive. The United States should sic the White House press corps on the Taliban spokesman until we get some answers.
If bin Laden and Omar are alive, let them show themselves, preferably in an open area away from hospitals and mosques, on a clear day. Just stay there until we can confirm it

Sources: No bodyguards, no bin Laden
July 30, 2002 Posted: 10:37 PM EDT (0237 GMT)

Osama bin Laden

From Kelli Arena and Barbara Starr
CNN Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Some members of Osama bin Laden's security detail have been captured and are among the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.S. officials told CNN Tuesday.
Sources believe that if the bodyguards were captured away from bin Laden, it is likely the most-wanted man in the world is dead. The sources said the guards have been in custody since February.
The revelation is the latest circumstantial and anecdotal evidence suggesting the al Qaeda leader might have been killed in the U.S.-led military action to purge the Taliban from power in Afghanistan.
Some high-level U.S. officials are already convinced by such evidence that bin Laden, who has not been seen or heard from in months, is dead.
Earlier this month, Dale Watson, assistant director of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division, said he was not sure whether bin Laden is alive or dead. "I personally think he's probably not with us anymore," he said.
But sources and officials Tuesday underscored there is not enough evidence to draw a firm conclusion about bin Laden's fate, including anything to suggest he remains alive.

"I don't think you could read anything in it conclusively," said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
"The fact you might capture part of the king's bodyguard doesn't mean you've got the king."
U.S. intelligence officials also are speculating about the status of bin Laden's 21-year-old son, saying Tuesday that while they believe he is active in al Qaeda, they see nothing to suggest directly that he has taken on a more senior role.
They described Saad bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader's third eldest son, as a facilitator "making arrangements and introductions." One intelligence official said, "He causes money to move around."
Officials underscore that they do not believe he has been designated the heir apparent or has taken control of al Qaeda, as some British-based Arab newspapers, including Asharq Al-Awsat, have suggested.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said that six to eight senior al Qaeda officials could still run the organization even if bin Laden were dead.
Nevertheless, the United States has high interest in capturing Saad bin Laden, in part because it is believed he would know whether his father is dead.
Officials tracking communications that could be linked to the group said Tuesday that they have picked up a fair amount of "chatter" in recent weeks, including intercepts of phone calls and e-mails between al Qaeda members.
Some of the intercepts contain messages regarding the movement of money and planning of future attacks.
U.S. intelligence sources said they believe that some messages may be bogus, part of an al Qaeda effort to deceive the United States.
Despite that possibility, sources maintain that some level of threat remains.


On the 24th night of Ramadan there were scary explosions in the place where Osama bin Laden's cave was. It was completely erased, destroyed by an enormous 52ft missile. There is no doubt that Osama bin Laden died
By Mark Ellis, Foreign Editor

OSAMA bin Laden's supporters yesterday issued a statement on the internet saying he was dead. The claims, repeated in the Al Bayan newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, said that the al-Qaeda terror chief died when the Americans bombed the Tora Bora mountains in Afghanistan. The details tally with dates of bombing missions in which US intelligence experts suspected that he may have been killed. The newspaper's story, headlined, "Yes, Osama bin Laden is dead but the Jihad will continue until Judgement Day'', quotes witness Shahid Ayan saying he perished on December 10, 2001. He said: "On the 24th night of Ramadan (Dec 10) and at a late hour, there were some scary explosions in the place where Osama bin Laden's cave was. "The cave was completely erased from the ground and became nothing. This was the only cave of the 15 that was destroyed by an enormous 52ft missile and there is no doubt that bin Laden died.'' BOMBED: Osama bin Laden He said the terrorist leader had taken refuge in the mountain caves on November 15 with 30 groups of around 320 fighters. He said the US had been intensively bombing the area for five days. American forces used bunker busting, laser guided bombs which hit at high speed and penetrate deep into the ground. They also attacked with AGM-142s - 3,000lb, television-guided missiles with earth blasting warheads. And it is also likely they had daisy cutters which detonate above ground and release smaller explosives over a huge area. The claim that bin Laden is dead came as Arab al-Jazeera TV carried a statement allegedly from Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. He pledged Islamic rule would return and said: "America won't enjoy Afghanistan or find comfort in it until it leaves ashamed. We reassure Muslims everywhere that we are abiding by the pledge and that victory is coming." According to Pakistani intelligence officials, bin Laden was last seen alive on November 17 in a 25-vehicle convoy travelling from Jalalabad in Afghanistan to the Tora Bora caves. He appeared on a video released in December in which he looked sallow and his left arm was lifeless. But since then the trail has gone cold. Afghan President Hamid Karzai yesterday said he believed bin Laden was dead. He added: "The more we do not hear of him or see any signal of his whereabouts or survival, we are likely to believe he is not alive." But White House advisers to President Bush think he is alive and say there would have been a huge increase in emails and internet chatter among al-Qaeda members if he had been killed.

ROME - The Italian journalist wounded by American troops in Iraq (news - web sites ) after her release by insurgents rejected the U.S. military's account of the shooting and declined Sunday to rule out the possibility she was deliberately targeted. The White House said it was a "horrific accident" and promised a full investigation.

Topeka protesters show up in Cleveland
By Jerry Gunn

CLEVELAND - A Topeka, Kansas anti-gay and lesbian group picketed near Truett-McConnell College Saturday in Cleveland, protesting against the Gay-Straight Alliance Club.

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