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Al Qaeda Releases Two Previously Unseen Videotapes

Aired April 15, 2002 - 10:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has received a copy of previously unseen videotapes of Osama bin Laden and a man described as a top deputy. The tapes were first aired on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic language network, that's basic Qatar. It is not certain when the tape was made.

And another tape was aired by the network. On this one, a man identified as one of the hijackers on United Airline's Flight 93, that's the one that crashed in Pennsylvania, says al Qaeda is taking its fight to America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And at this time to kill the Americans on their own ground amongst their families and soldiers. And the United States is pretending to be a superpower and thinks that it can get anything it wants. The truth is that we will fight them on their own ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KAGAN: Want to point out something about the production of that tape. A portion of the tape shows a background apparently inserted electronically of the burning New York Trade Center Towers. Al- Jazeera says the tape was recorded in Kandahar six months before September 11. So if you look at that, you might wonder how that's possible. Well we believe that the message was taped six months ahead of time and then later in production someone went ahead and electronically inserted that picture behind the hijacker.

Let's get more on what these two tapes could help us learn about September 11 and bring in Michael Swetnam. He is with the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and helps us understand a lot of these developments as they come to light.

Good morning, thanks for joining us.

MICHAEL SWETNAM, POTOMAC INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: Well thank you for having me.

KAGAN: First, the Osama bin Laden tape. On it he is sitting next to one of -- a man who's believed to be one of his top deputies. And our executives here at CNN who have had a chance to listen to it carefully through translators say that this is one of the strongest declarations for an al Qaeda official truly claiming responsibility for September 11. Would you have any comment on that?

SWETNAM: Yes, I think that this is a time when Osama bin Laden and his probably No. 2 deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Dr. Al-Zawahiri from Egypt, are looking not just to claim more blatantly and publicly responsibility for September 11 but maybe to refocus the world press a little bit on September 11. I think that al Qaeda has for a long time been supportive of the Palestinians against Israel in the west. They don't want that to distract too much from their holy jihad. And it's a -- it's a good time, I think, for them to make a public statement and try and draw their followers around the world back to the cause. That's why I think they've released this tape at this time and after.

KAGAN: The cause being you mean not get distracted by the Palestinian situation?

SWETNAM: Exactly. I -- how -- even though they've used the Palestinian situation many times to buttress their cause.

KAGAN: When it's convenient for them. It seems like it's...

SWETNAM: It is.

KAGAN: ... when it's convenient for them they kind of adopt the Palestinians and their plight.

SWETNAM: It is. It is. And it helps their cause, but they don't want to have the Arab world lose focus of the vendetta, the holy jihad, that Osama bin Laden wants to have the Muslim world rise up against the west. So as the world focuses on the Palestinian situation, Osama bin Laden is trying to remind them that this is a war against the west and trying to get the Islamic world to once again rise against the west. He's failed to do that so far.

KAGAN: One thing that's not clear about this particular tape is when and where it was done.

SWETNAM: Correct. It has the semblance and the craftsmanship, if you will, of some of the earlier tapes, which were much more expertly done. The later tapes that were released in December were looked a little more hastily done, Osama bin Laden looked ill, his followers looked drawn as if they had been running. This tape has the appearance of the earlier tapes, they look fresh, they look healthy. This tape may well have been made earlier, however, clearly it's been orchestrated to try and send a message that they're healthy and they're still fighting this battle.

KAGAN: Let's move on to the other tape, the tape of the hijacker that appears to have been done about six months before September 11 took place. Very eerie on a number of counts. First of all, if you -- if we do believe that we're looking at a man who was one of the hijackers, to see a man who was -- who died in such a violent manner, that's spooky on that note, but also that it was six months ahead of time. If there's this much planning and it's even down on videotape, it's got to make you wonder again why didn't somebody know what was going on? SWETNAM: Well exactly. Clearly this was an event that was orchestrated by extreme planning around the world. Much of it, the finances, the planning was well orchestrated and crafted. The fact that they made videotapes of some of the hijackers and the terrorists as much as six months before it happened, took the time to doctor up those videos and make them into, if you will, a commercial, illustrates how highly-prepared this terrorist network is to not just carry out attacks against us but working the media, working the world press, working the popular opinion to incite their followers to do more of the same.

KAGAN: Well and then, quite frankly, on a day like today we here at CNN need to be careful. We -- you want to bring the latest news and the latest developments, but you don't want to be...

SWETNAM: Sure.

KAGAN: ... a free channel for terrorists who are just trying to spread their propaganda.

SWETNAM: That's correct. That's correct. It is a very delicate balance. It's important that this information hit the world press and be announced and be analyzed, but we also have to be careful. We have to make sure that it's clear to those listening that these are propaganda tapes, this is al Qaeda trying to incite the Muslims around the world to rise against the west, that this is not a legitimate cause that deserves the kind of attention that it's been getting.

KAGAN: Michael Swetnam from the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. Thanks for joining us and for your insight.

SWETNAM: Well thank you.

KAGAN: Appreciate it.

SWETNAM: Thank you.

KAGAN: Thank you.

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