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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Al-Jazeera to Air Bin Laden Audio

Aired February 11, 2003 - 14:34   ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: I understand we're getting more information with regard to that statement on tape that Al-Jazeera says it will be airing, a tape with Osama bin Laden, apparently.
David Ensor, national security correspondent out of D.C. now with more on that tape.

What do you know -- David.

DAVID ENSOR, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, I'm hearing from U.S. officials that they understand that Al-Jazeera will broadcast that tape very shortly, in about just around the top of the hour, at 3:00 Eastern Standard Time. We're told it's an audiotape. The U.S. has not yet had a chance to properly assess whether the voice really is that of Osama bin Laden, but that will be the operating assumption until proved otherwise.

Now, as we've reported earlier, Secretary of State Powell talked about the existence of a new tape earlier today and pointed to it as evidence that al Qaeda and Iraq may somehow be working together, evidence that bin Laden is supportive of Iraq and vice versa -- and certainly that bin Laden is supportive of Iraq, in that Powell said that the language that bin Laden uses, he once again speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq. Al-Jazeera has said that the tape -- on the tape, bin Laden calls on all Muslims to unite and help Iraq.

So this is a very interesting new development if it is in fact bin Laden. He's apparently hoping to use sympathy in the Arab world and elsewhere for Iraq to his own purposes.

We have seen this kind of thing before in the past. He has put out a tape supportive of the Palestinians. These are neither of them causes that Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda had supported in the past. Iraq, of course, a largely secular dictatorship, and one that he in past years had denounced. But now, if these reports are correct, on this new tape that we should hear shortly, we will hear bin Laden praising Iraq and calling on Muslims to support it -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, David, let's talk about the authenticity of this tape. This has happened in the past. A tape has come forward. It's been aired, saying it's authentic. It ends up not being authentic. How is this going to work? It's definitely going to air without any type of proof that indeed it's authentic, right? Then how will CNN handle this tape?

ENSOR: I haven't spoken to management just in the last few minutes, but that's an interesting question you can be sure that people are looking at it. If it is in fact an audiotape, the problem is audiotapes are easy to doctor and easy to falsify. So it will be a delicate matter as to whether or not this is indeed Osama bin Laden. Although, in the past, as you mentioned, some of them have thought to be false, but some of them have also thought to be genuine. So it could well be that this will be Osama bin Laden. And as I said, officials I've spoken to say their operating assumption until they really get to hear the thing and take it apart is that it probably will be the voice of Osama bin Laden.

PHILLIPS: All right. Our David Ensor, thank you.

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