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Some Muslims view tape with skepticism

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- There was heavy skepticism in Arab and Muslim communities around the world about the veracity of the released videotape of Osama bin Laden discussing the September 11 terror attacks.

The tape, released Thursday by the Bush administration, was dismissed as U.S. propaganda by Malaysia's Muslim opposition.

Leaders of Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), the country's biggest opposition party, said they were still not convinced bin Laden was behind the September 11 attacks.

"It is still not a proven case that he directed it, he planned it or he funded it," said Kamaruddin Jaafar, a senior PAS leader, told Reuters news service.

"It's not a proven case despite this tape," he said.

Most Muslim governments, including Malaysia's, were quiet on the topic of the tape. Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has criticized the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and called for an end to civilian casualties.

But Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States calls Osama bin Laden a "murderous criminal" in a statement released Thursday, according to Reuters news agency.

"The tape displays the cruel and inhumane face of a murderous criminal who has no respect for the sanctity of human life or the principles of his faith," the report quoted Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz as saying.


CNN's James Martone reports on continued Arab reaction to the videotape of Osama bin Laden discussing the September 11 attacks (December 14)

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Watch the excerpt of the video of Osama bin Laden obtained by the Bush administration (December 13)

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• Gallery: World watches bin Laden tape 
• Reaction to the tape 
• Key quotes 
• Transcript 
• Chronology: Bin Laden on tape 

After the tape aired, some skeptics expressed the belief that the tape may have been doctored.

In Egypt, café goers who had watched the tape on the al-Jazeera television network found bin Laden's apparent confession of knowledge of the attacks hard to believe.

"Islam forbids killing innocents -- the tape doesn't prove anything," one man told CNN.

"Don't forget the United States supported bin Laden in fighting Afghanistan."

Another man said that the United States was merely using the tape to ratchet up pressure on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

"This is U.S. propaganda in an attempt to make use of the situation in Palestine," he said.

He faulted the United States for taking Israel's side in its attacks on Palestinian Authority targets.

On CNN's "NewsNight with Aaron Brown" on Thursday, Raghida Dergham, the senior diplomatic correspondent for London's "Al-Hayat" newspaper said the Arab reaction to the tape is not universally skeptical.

Dergham held up the Friday front page of her paper, with a headline reading "Bin Laden Confesses That he Planned for the Attacks."

"There is more than one voice," she said. "You'll have the skeptics, they will remain skeptics. But I think those who have been in denial ... will have to change their minds and will change their minds and will be empowered by the tape that was released today."

Call for independent examination

In Indonesia, the world's most-populous Muslim nation, there were calls for an investigation into the tape's veracity.

"The videotape has not been independently examined. You know, that the Americans have all the technology. Making up a videotape is so easy for them," Muhammad Rizieq, leader of the radical Islamic Defenders Front, told Reuters.

"I am the number one person who does not believe in things coming from the U.S. I am sick with its propaganda to cover up their war crimes in Afghanistan," Rizieq said.

But in Pakistan, which had strong ties to the now defunct Taliban regime in Afghanistan, official said the tape reinforced President Pervez Musharraf's alliance with the United States.

They said the tape showed that Pakistan made the right decision in supporting the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has allowed the use of its airspace and some airbases in the campaign. It also closed down the Taliban embassies in Pakistan, the last nation to cease diplomatic relations with the former Afghan-rulers.

Bin Laden's guilt?

In the U.S., the tape reinforced already-polarized views of bin Laden.

Many Americans said they did not need to see the tape to be convinced of bin Laden's guilt.

New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said the tape showed that bin Laden was the "personification of evil."

American officials say the grainy, amateur-quality tape was discovered in a house in the city of Jalalabad.

They say the hour-long tape was shot in Kandahar on November 9.

Experts who have viewed it suggest it may have been intended for internal use within bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

The Bush administration has called in four outside experts to review the tape, to defuse claims that it has been doctored or inaccurately translated.


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