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Al Jazeera Broadcasts New bin Laden Tape

Aired October 6, 2002 - 17:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: First, the Al Jazeera television network has broadcast an audiotape it says is of Osama bin Laden. American authorities have not confirmed that the voice on the tape is bin Laden's. On the tape, the voice warns of more attacks against the United States. The speaker says, quote, "the youths (ph) of God are preparing terrorist activities targeting the U.S. economy."
CNN's Octavia Nasr is in Qatar, and she joins us by phone with details of the audiotape that has been played on Al Jazeera television -- Octavia.

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fredricka, first of all, it is very important to note that we do not have a confirmation that this is, indeed, Osama bin Laden or when this tape was recorded.

Al Jazeera, as you just reported, aired this tape a little less than an hour ago. It is a two-minute audiotape that it says is of bin Laden. In it, there is a clear message to the American people. It's short and concise. It has an explanation in it. The alleged Osama bin Laden is asking the American people to try and understand why he attacked New York and Washington. He says "this is a direct response to your previous crimes," and this is a direct quote.

He also says that the criminal bandits inside the White House, the Jewish agents who are preparing for attacking the Islamic world and dividing it, and he complains that the American people are not doing anything about it.

As you say, this is a tape that just aired on Al Jazeera, and, of course, everybody is waiting on reaction from the U.S. administration at this point -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And, Octavia, is there a way in which to describe how Al Jazeera broadcast this tape, what words perhaps may have been coupled with this audiotape?

NASR: No, Al Jazeera was very careful in wording the introduction to this tape. As a matter of fact, they led the show with it, a little -- actually, about an hour ago from now. They led the show with it. They said it's breaking news, we obtained this audiotape. In it, Osama bin Laden addresses the American people. They gave a brief synopsis of what's to come. And then they ran the tape with graphic picture of -- a graphic picture of Osama bin Laden.

After that, they had experts discussing whether they thought the tape was authentic, if it was, indeed, Osama bin Laden, and they were very careful in the wording around the introduction to this tape.

WHITFIELD: And Octavia, on that broadcast was it indicated in any way when this recording might have taken place?

NASR: No way. There is no one who can tell when this recording took place. All we know at this point is that it was delivered to Al Jazeera tonight, a couple of hours before it went to air. The Al Jazeera news gathering team had to assess the newsworthiness of this tape, and then decided that they're going to lead their major show, which is "Al-Hasad (ph)," it airs at 11:00 p.m. local time. It's a summary of the whole day's events. They decided to lead the show with it, and, of course, one of the Al Jazeera styles in this type of circumstance is they make sure to have guests right after any Osama bin Laden tape to discuss and try to evaluate the newsworthiness of such a tape. And that's exactly what they did -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Octavia Nasr, thank you very much for that report through the phone from Qatar.

We want to bring in now one of our resident experts on intelligence, and that's Kelly McCann, and he is on the telephone with us from Washington. And Kelly, we just heard Octavia explain that there's still an awful lot of details that need to be sorted out, to try to verify the authenticity of this audiotape, to try to verify whether, indeed, it is the voice of Osama bin Laden as Al Jazeera television broadcasts.

So in a case like this, how does one go about trying to find the authenticity or determine the authenticity of such an audiotape?

KELLY MCCANN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: There's a couple of things that will be done, Fredricka. First, of course, they'll run it against voice prints from other tapes and other mediums that have been used. But you know, that's kind of not that accurate because of the different kinds of taping capability people have. In a digitized age, you know, you can virtually create audio and visual images, so it's more difficult than it used to be to do that.

And then, obviously, what they'll do is they'll look at the momentum of recent events and other things that might indicate that it could be somebody, not necessarily Osama bin Laden, that would have a reason to at this time put a message like this together and put it out for our consumption. But it will take a couple of weeks, I'm sure.

WHITFIELD: And I'm sure often -- and I know that oftentimes when trying to determine when a recording may have taken place or where, some of the elements you look for are the kind of extraneous noise, the background noises. Do you believe that in a case like this, it would be easy or more difficult to lift such extraneous noises?

MCCANN: Well, more difficult, because if you think of how mobile he was, even when he was in Afghanistan moving about. We know, of course, you know, what was in those specific places and the kinds of activity that was being conducted in those places. But he was fairly mobile, and he'd certainly be mobile now, trying to evade everyone who is looking for him. So that is also going to be undertaken, but would be very, very difficult.

You know, these could have been pre-recorded messages, as you say. There's no date stamp on them. And of course, that kind of rhetoric, that inflammatory speech would be useful throughout an ongoing mythology, if you would, of Osama bin Laden and his hate for us in America. So it's an interesting development.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kelly McCann, thank you very much for joining us on the telephone. Of course, we'll continue to follow this story to try to get some of these questions answered as pertaining to this audiotape that Al Jazeera television is claiming to be the voice of Osama bin Laden.


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