U.S. asked A-Jazeera to prevent broadcasting of Bin Laden tape

Monday, November 1, 2004

ABU DHABI Osama Bin Laden threatened American voters with another massive Al Qaida strike, in his first video appearance in more than a year.

Bin Laden discussed the U.S. presidential campaign, in a videotape broadcast on Oct. 29, and did not rule out mass-casualty suicide strikes such as those that took place on Sept. 11, 2001, Middle East Newsline reported.

U.S. officials said the Bin Laden tape appeared authentic and was produced over the last two months. They said the State Department had requested that Qatar prevent the broadcasting of the tape on the eve of the U.S. elections.

But Qatar and A-Jazeera refused. An A-Jazeera spokesman said the tape was newsworthy.

''I don't think anybody would disagree as to the high news value of the Bin Laden tape,'' A-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ali Ballout said in a statement.

Bin Laden blamed U.S. support for Israel for the 9/11 attacks, in which more than 3,000 people were killed.

In his first acknowledgement of the 9/11 attacks, Bin Laden said the plan to hijack passenger jets and crash them into the World Trade Center and Defense Department was conceived and carried out by Mohammed Atta. He said the Al Qaida strikes took President George Bush and his administration by surprise.

"Even as you enter the fourth year after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush is still misleading and deluding you and hiding the real reason from you," Bin Laden said in the tape broadcast by A-Jazeera television. "Consequently, there are still reasons to repeat what took place."

Bin Laden, believed located along the Afghan-Pakistani border, said he was angered by U.S. support of Israel and what he termed the Israeli injustice against Lebanese and Palestinians. He also dismissed the significance of the current U.S. presidential campaign.

"Your security is not in the hands of [Democratic challenger John] Kerry, Bush or Al Qaida," Bin Laden said in the 18-minute tape, seven minutes of which was broadcast. "Your security is in your own hands. Any state that does not tangle with our security naturally guarantees its own security."

Bin Laden reviewed U.S. policy in the Middle East since 1982, when Israel invaded Lebanon. He said the United States, through the navy's Sixth Fleet, helped the Israeli military operation against the PLO.

The Al Qaida leader focused on Bush and his father, president from 1989 to 1993. Bin Laden said both the current and former presidents were attracted to Arab despots until they began to resemble them.

"This resemblance became clear in the visits by Bush, the father, to the region," Bin Laden said. "He wound up being impressed by the royal and military regimes and envied them for staying in their positions for decades and embezzling national funds without supervision."

"He passed on tyranny and oppression to his son, and they called it the Patriot Act, under the pretext of fighting terrorism," Bin Laden continued. "Bush, the father, did well in placing his sons as governors and did not forget to pass on his expertise in fraud from the leaders of the [Middle East] region to Florida for use in critical moments."

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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