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Al Jazeera TV Reports Receiving Audio Tape From Osama Bin Laden

Aired November 12, 2002 - 15:15   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Martin Savidge at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

The breaking news is that Al Jazeera television -- that is the Arab 24-hour satellite network out of Doha in Qatar -- is reporting they have received an audiotape that they claim has come from Osama bin Laden.

What is significant about this tape is that it talks about dated events, recent events, such as that terrorist bombing in Bali and also the attack on the Russian theater in Moscow.

Here is some of this audio recording.


OSAMA BIN LADEN (voice of translator): What happened in New York and Washington until today, like the killing of the Germans in Tunis and the French in Karachi and the explosion in Yemen of the French ship and the killing of the Marines in Failaka and the killing of the Britains and the Australians and the latest action in Moscow is only a response to what has -- to what is happening to all Muslim brothers around the world.


SAVIDGE: Again, an audio tape that is said to be from Osama bin Laden just coming in from Al Jazeera.

CNN's Mike Boettcher joins us -- Mike, obviously, if it's true, it flies in the face of the fact that we thought Osama might be dead.

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, some people thought he might be dead, but we've been saying consistently our sources have told us that he is alive, that he was injured in the battle of Tora Bora, that he had an operation on his shoulder, and that there is intelligence out there.

We're not sure the exact reasons that intelligence officials I've been speaking to in the coalition believe he is alive, but they kept maintaining that he was alive.

SAVIDGE: All right. So we listen to this tape. We don't know for sure it's him, but, by the words, by the voice, can you make any ascertainment whether it might be him?

BOETTCHER: Well, it sounds like him, and Al Jazeera has not been prone to broadcasting false recordings. So, usually, when a statement comes from Al Jazeera, it is a true and credible statement from al Qaeda. So I think you can take that to the bank.

I think, in terms of this particular audio tape, they wanted to show that he is alive and there's some chilling words in there. He said, for example, at the end, "Just like you kill, you will be killed. Just like you bombed, you will be bombed." So it's a declaration that "I'm alive, and the war is going to continue."

SAVIDGE: And we have seen sometimes in the past, after messages have come from al Qaeda, that there are subsequent attacks.

BOETTCHER: That does happen. It happens quite frequently, and I'm sure that is of concern to the coalition counterterrorism operatives around the world.

If you look at the world right now, there are heightened alerts in Europe, Asia, South America, and a lot of the attacks aimed at the United States and its allies in the coalition.

And bin Laden, for example, in the audio tape talks about the Australians, that the Australians should have expected this because they supported the U.S.-led coalition.

SAVIDGE: And another thing to be brought out is the timing of this. It comes at this critical juncture where the U.S. and the United Nations have been debating what to do about Iraq, in other words perhaps getting involved in another war, and Osama comes up and waves the flag and says, "Well, wait a minute. You haven't finished the last one, and it might create a wedge in public opinion."

BOETTCHER: Absolutely.

I will say that he did mention Iraq, and, in statements over the past year, more and more, he's made -- Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda have made Iraq an issue. Before, they did not like Saddam Hussein. They considered him an infidel basically and -- or a bad Muslim, and, in this particular statement, he refers to the killing of children in Iraq. That is his reference to sanctions against Iraq, and Iraq alleges that many children have died because of that.

So, obviously, that is one of the reasons -- there is a concern that when or if a war with Iraq occurs that there could be a counterattack with terrorism, and what people are trying to understand is is there any relationship between Iraq and some of these other groups in order to launch some sort of retaliation against a U.S.-led strike against Iraq, if that were to occur. That is not completely understood at all yet, though.

SAVIDGE: And what do you think the reaction's going to be in the Arab world to this statement?

BOETTCHER: I think that among supporters of Osama bin Laden, they will take it as a sign that he is alive and that this war continues. To those who are sitting on the fence or who want to just go about their lives, I think that it means to them that a good time is not coming ahead.

SAVIDGE: And from what you know and your experts in terrorism, what happens to this tape? Who analyzes it? Does anybody really care in government whether he's alive or not?

BOETTCHER: Well, they will analyze the voice and see if it matches, and we'll find out from that. That will occur at the CIA. There are mechanisms to do that. They will look at the language and see if it's similar language he's used in past statements. And, from those two things, they should be pretty certain that it is Osama bin Laden.

SAVIDGE: All right. Mike Boettcher, thank you very much for joining us.

Recapping, a tape has appeared, an audio tape, coming from Al Jazeera. They claim that it comes from Osama bin Laden. In that tape, he makes note of current or recent attacks, such as the one in Bali and the one in Moscow on a theater. That would seem to indicate he is still alive. We will continue to follow this story. We'll take a break. More of TALKBACK LIVE after that.



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