Bin Laden lashes out at U.N., U.S. attacks in taped message
(CNN) -- Osama bin Laden lashed out at the United States and United Nations in a videotape broadcast Saturday by the Arabic-language television network Al Jazeera.
On the 20-minute tape, bin Laden does not deny that his organization was responsible for the September 11 attacks in the United States. Instead, he says that true Muslims celebrated those attacks.
He also condemns the U.S.-led bombing campaign and claims that it is targeting innocent Afghan civilians.
Senior U.S. government officials called bin Laden's statement an "act of desperation" and say he may have "irreparably damaged" himself and Afghanistan's ruling Taliban in the Arab world.
The Qatar-based network said it does not know when the message was taped or where, but the specific references to the airstrikes in Afghanistan indicate it was recorded after October 7, when the U.S.-led military campaign began.
The United States has said that bin Laden is the prime suspect in the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed thousands of people.
The United States launched its campaign in Afghanistan after the country's ruling Taliban refused to turn over bin Laden. The Saudi-born bin Laden is staying in Afghanistan as a "guest" of the Taliban.
The Pentagon also has stressed that it is trying to minimize civilian casualties in the ongoing airstrikes and has accused the Taliban of placing troops and military equipment in residential areas in hopes that U.S. airstrikes will cause civilian deaths.
In the videotaped message, bin Laden denounces the United Nations, calling it an instrument of crime against Muslims and lambasting the organization for the creation of the state of Israel in a 1947 resolution.
Bin Laden said Arab leaders who remain in the United Nations have broken faith with the prophet Mohammed and the Koran.
"Those who claim to be Arab leaders and remain in the United Nations, they have become unbelievers of the revelation that was given to Mohammed," he said. "Those who refer matters to international legitimacy have become unbelievers in the legitimacy of the Koran."
It was not clear if bin Laden was referring to Arab leaders who will attend a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly next week in New York.
Senior U.S. government officials described bin Laden's statement was a "grave error" on his part, pointing to the Saudi exile's condemnation of the United Nations and Arab nations that belong to the world body.
"Bin Laden must believe that the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon and even Iraq are infidels," a senior government official said.
The senior officials said they believed bin Laden was feeling the pressure of the military campaign against him and the al Qaeda terrorist network.
"By launching this attack against the other Arab nations, he's alienating millions of moderate Muslims," one senior official said. "He's basically attacked every Arab country."
The United States is working to get its response aired "everywhere in the world" through the administration's new "Coalition Information Center," senior government officials said.
The center consists of a campaign-style war room at the White House, linked to an office in London and eventually to an office in Islamabad, Pakistan, so the United States can counter any bin Laden or Taliban statements throughout the 24-hour news cycle.
Senior government officials have said they don't believe they are losing the so-called propaganda war with bin Laden and the Taliban, but believe they can do a better job communicating the U.S. message.
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