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Audio from New Al Qaeda Tape Filled With Threats

Aired September 10, 2003 - 14:25   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Mike, as we listened at least a little bit to that video -- or audiotape, we say it's about an hour long. So obviously want to make it very clear that those are just some excerpts that we were hearing from that.
But the tone -- very, very threatening tone. Would you agree?

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think it's the most threatening we've heard from all of the audiotapes and very graphically so, talking to the mothers in the United States saying, If you want your sons to come home alive and not in coffins, tell your government to leave Iraq. Also very strong and talks extensively about U.S. support for Israel, and another reason why the United States should be attacked and the subject of terrorist attacks and Israel itself, very strong in that regard.

And what we have are centers of gravity in the war against terrorism. You have terrorist attacks in Israel. You have the terrorist attacks in Iraq. You also have the center of gravity that exists in Southeast Asia, and an emerging one that coalition intelligence officials are seeing even in South America. So what happened after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and took away that base, jihadists from al Qaeda moved around the world. We know that after -- right after 9/11 and just a few days before, there were approximately -- and the estimates vary -- anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 al Qaeda operators, highly trained ones, who left area of Afghanistan and moved to various parts of the world. Those are the people that pose the real problem right now.

As David pointed out, have you these two men, who are the symbols of al Qaeda located somewhere in a mountainous region, we suspect on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the tribal areas. But they aren't able to exert day-to-day control.

Now as President Bush pointed out in his speech of Sunday night, they have dismantled the top leadership of al Qaeda, arresting about two-thirds of them. But the problem is, as one intelligence official told us, it's not the people we know about that worries us, it's the people we don't know.

COLLINS: Exactly. And obviously hard to find at this point, as we've seen over the past several months.

Also, we are just told being told that we are going to be able to take a moment to take a listen to some sound reportedly of Osama bin Laden now. We have already heard from Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Let's go ahead and listen in to -- I'm guessing, once again, this might be the voice of a translator. But let's hear this.


OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Those who would like to learn loyalty and generosity and victory to support the religion, then let them learn from the sea, from the ocean of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and their brothers. May the mercy of God be on them. Those learned from the history of the prophet Mohammed. He was the most honest of people and the most brave of people. He said you will not find me miser (ph), not a coward and now a liar. I would say to those who have not picked on these features, those who don't agree with killing, then let them step out of the way. I would say to them, Those who don't -- who are afraid of climbing mountains, then they will live in pits and hole.


COLLINS: Your thoughts on that?

BOETTCHER: Well, he is challenging Muslims around the world to join him in a jihad in a holy war and not sit on the sidelines.

Now al Qaeda has been using a method since they lost their base in Afghanistan and it's basically electronic jihad, using the Internet to recruit new people into the al Qaeda movement to become terrorists.

One thing we saw in Iraq that spread around the world on Web site, jihadist Web sites, were pictures of soldiers raping women. Now these were put on a Web site and the Web site, which was read by jihadists around the world said it was American soldiers raping Iraqi women, when in fact the pictures show Serbian soldiers committing atrocities against Kosovar women. So they'll lose and have been using every kind of propaganda to incite people to join them.

And frankly, they believe, as you can see right here, that the war in Iraq has really incited a lot in the Islamic world. And they are going to capitalize on this movement, as you can tell by what they're saying.

COLLINS: Right, and I just want to let people know who we're watching this now, this is brand new video we've been watching. Sort of a different a different shot. Now we are getting new images from, once again, Al Jazeera as we know or believe to recognize these men as Osama bin Laden in the back and I believe the man right in front of...

BOETTCHER: Ayman al-Zawahiri.

COLLINS: Ayman al-Zawahiri, his top lieutenant, here.

If in fact, Mike, this turns out to be is true video, true sound from these individuals so that we will learn from the CIA or the FBI within approximately a day or so hopefully, may take more than that, but typically that's the time. What happens next? Where do they go from there? BOETTCHER: Well, the agencies will then try to analyze what this means, what they're saying. Is there any change in message? I would say the change is the tone is even become more harsh. And they will read into that, I would assume, that more attacks are planned, and that stating the on, the concern is when.

The anniversary is coming tomorrow. In past history with al Qaeda, there have been several times they released videotapes and audiotapes when attacks have occurred. Perfect example was the African embassy bombings, the USS Cole. And so that will be of major concern.

They will try to analyze and find out where the area is, where they are walking. I would bet my bottom dollar they're not there now. They wouldn't be that stupid.

These are smart operators. He has gone completely off the net, not communicating electronically, only doing so with human couriers, but keeping in touch. And if he is in Pakistan across from Afghanistan in the tribal areas, it's going to be a tremendously difficult place to get these two people and their followers there.

Now, we were told several months ago, that they were in an area where the tribes in the area were keeping close watch on them, looking for outsiders coming in. So it would be difficult to launch any kind of a raid or infiltrate anyone in there to get them.

Again, they don't know specifically, I am told, but they really have narrowed it down, the location. And still, though, it's in Pakistan, and some association would have to be made with the Pakistanis, cooperation would have to be made agreed to in order to finally get to the top leadership of al Qaeda.

COLLINS: Let's go ahead take a second too, Mike, to listen in one more time to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden. We heard this audiotape a little bit earlier. We just want to give everybody a chance to hear it once again.


AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI (through translator): This is the second anniversary of the attacks on Washington and New York, and America is still challenging with it's crusade. They are suffering from wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We say to them, we don't call for destruction and killing, but we will, with the help of God, cut hand that is extended to us with aggression. And here we would like to let you know also, and emphasize that what you've seen so far is -- are just the first skirmishes, and the real battle has not started yet.

Prepare yourself for the punishment for your crimes. We call to you stand an honest stand to recalculate your, and rethink your crimes against Muslims. And you ask for the true volume of your casualties and losses in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now we challenge those Americans to be honest with you, but they're more coward, too coward to do that. We recommend to the mothers of the soldiers, if you'd like to see your sons, then hasten to ask your government to return them rather than coming back to you in coffins.

And here, we address our Muslim brothers in Palestine, that the wound of Palestine is bleeding in the heart of every Muslim. And with the help God, we'll not let America enjoy peace and security until the Palestinian issue is resolved.

We tell them we're on the path of Jihad, and we ask that the Muslim brothers not to be deceived by America. Palestine will not be liberated but with Jihad. So never, never let doubt give up your weapons, but rather hold fast to supporting believers and hostilities towards the nonbelievers. Never ally yourself with those who support Israel.

Those fighters in Iraq, we greet them and salute them and support them, and ask to God bless their efforts and bravery in fighting the crusaders. And we tell them God is with you and the nation is supporting you. Depend and rely on God. And attack and devour the Americans just like -- and bury them in the graveyard of Iraq.


COLLINS: Possibly the words of Ayman al-Zawahiri. We would of course wait confirmation on that from government officials after they do analyze this video and audio that we just heard.

Would you call it a rally cry?

BOETTCHER: Oh, definitely. I think that the tone again was very, very direct and harsh, trying to rally Muslims around the world behind their cause, using the issues of Iraq and the terrorist attacks in Israel to rally Jihadist around the world to their side.

And intelligence analysts in the coalition say they have seen this infiltration happening. They would like to make Iraq the equivalent of the Soviets in Afghanistan. Now there are apples and oranges there because those are two very different places. The infrastructure in Iraq is so more advanced than it was in Afghanistan. The terrain is different, the people are different. And, so, you're talking about two very different situations.

But judging by the comments we're seeing here, they would like to make that the centerpiece of the holy war, the war in Iraq.

COLLINS: We want to listen in to -- we have a little bit more sound now coming to us. This is new audio we have not heard before coming to us possibly, again not confirmed, from Osama bin Laden himself, and the voice of a translator. Let's listen to that.


OSAMA BIN LADEN (through translator): Those youngsters believed, truly believed and the believer will never be bitten twice, as we were told by our prophet.

Those youngsters knew that the way to destruction is when we disable Sharia and reject the flattery at compromises whether it is with rulers or scholars. They believe that they sent -- the preservation of Sharia depends on people like them, and they are guided by the Hadid, the saying (ph) of the prophet, that he said, By God, if my daughter Fatima (ph) stole, I would cut her hand. They knew the meaning of there's no God but Allah.

And they knew that this should prevail, the statement should prevail and govern us in all our life's affairs. And when this is not the case, then the rulings -- when the rulings of the rulers prevail then, at that time, those youngsters knew that the rulers are not on Sharia, they were heretics, even if they prayed or fasted or claimed to be Muslims.

Those youngsters rejected to sit with those who sit back, and they set out to support the word of oneness, there is no God but Allah and Mohamed is his messenger.


COLLINS: We're possibly listening to the words of Osama bin Laden through a translator there on new audio and videotape that we have gotten in her at CNN.

Mike Boettcher, what do you make of that? A little confusing those words...

BOETTCHER: Well you know it's interesting. There's a difference in tone between the two, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden. And it actually fits the way they do speak. Bin Laden speaking in lessons about philosophy and learning lessons and speaking as a teacher talking to a class.

Whereas you have Ayman al-Zawahiri and his comment very direct, very harsh, very threatening. And so basically in this two-man show, Zawahiri is playing the heavy, and Osama bin Laden is taking the lighter role, basically.

But he is seen by himself as the great leader so he can take that pedestal view when he does give public statements. He tends to go on and preach like that quite often in his statements. And that's why they go on forever sometimes.

COLLINS: I want to talk a little bit more, if we could, on something you mentioned earlier about sort of removing himself, Osama bin Laden, from the Internet, which has been a tool of theirs that they have used for years.

Now if he's up in the mountains somewhere, as this video is possibly showing us, or at least he was at one time, and he's using these human couriers, Does that not seem remarkable to you that through every -- all of the correspondence that we have seen, that no one has been seen, no had been trailed going to where he is? BOETTCHER: Well, it would mean that authorities in that area may be complicit with -- in order to infiltrate in like that have to have some complicity with al Qaeda. But this is an area that we're talking about in Pakistan -- it's basically lawless. And so it is difficult to imagine that couriers going in and out of there would manage to do this without being tracked.

We know that one letter was found on the body, was blood stained, believed to be from bin Laden, on the body of one of the men who was part of the plot that blew up the compounds in Riyadh earlier this year. So that letter is believed to be part of that batch. Now I am told by my sources that in the letter, bin Laden exhorted his followers to go out launch attacks if the United States attacked Iraq. Now the interesting thing is we didn't see during the war those sorts of terrorist attacks occur. Why is a great mystery, and it's one of the mysteries that analysts have been looking at now for several months.

COLLINS: And are we seeing them now?

BOETTCHER: Well, I think it's very likely there is a fear out there that went next few weeks -- not in the terms of months -- but in the next few weeks, we will see some sort of major attack. I am told by coalition intelligence sources that there is concern that bin Laden is really focusing on weapons of mass destruction. The problem is it would be difficult for al Qaeda on the run.

The strategy of the United States has been -- and the coalition it to be aggressive, be on the offensive to keep them on the defensive so they cannot develop weapons of mass destruction. And that would be chemical, biological or some sort of nuclear device.

Now what we do know is is that the camps that did exist in Afghanistan -- for example, the Abu Cabab (ph) camp, where, if you watched CNN several months ago, we had the exclusive video of the chemical tests on the dogs. This is the place where they tested various gases -- poisoned gases -- to be used against the West in some sort of terrorist attack. Those camps were dismantled. There was a suspicion that al Qaeda knew after such a massive attack by the United States that the United States would respond by invading Afghanistan, and indeed it did. And so these camps there were moved and these chemical training labs and such, we are told, now exist in the Pankisi Gorge (ph) area, which is between Georgia and Chechnya.



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