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 Friday, 29 November, 2002, 05:40 GMT
Bin Laden tape 'not genuine'
Osama Bin Laden
There has been speculation about Bin Laden's fate
Researchers in Switzerland have questioned the authenticity of the recent audio recording attributed to Osama Bin Laden.

A team from the Lausanne-based Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence, Idiap, said it was 95% certain the tape does not feature the voice of the al-Qaeda leader.

It could be an impostor

Samy Bengio, voice recognition expert

US intelligence officials have said they believe the recording - broadcast on the Arabic al-Jazeera television channel earlier this month - was almost certainly that of Osama Bin Laden.

If verified, it would provide the first evidence in a year that Bin Laden survived the American-led bombing campaign in Afghanistan.

Prudence

The review of the tape was commissioned by France-2 television and its findings were presented by the institute's director, Professor Herve Bourlard.

Mr Bourlard said the institute had compared the voice on the tape with some 20 earlier recordings allegedly made by Bin Laden.

"It could be an impostor," said one of Mr Bourlard's colleagues at Idiap, Samy Bengio, quoted by the French news agency AFP.

He said the system they had used was difficult to tamper with - the al-Jazeera tape was sufficiently different from other Bin Laden recordings as to raise doubts.

Recent

The speaker on the recording - broadcast on 12 November - praised anti-Western attacks as recent as last month, including the Bali bombing; the killing of a US marine in Kuwait; the bombing of a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen; and the siege of a Moscow theatre by Chechen rebels.

You will be killed just as you kill

Voice on tape

It spoke of "the raids on New York and Washington" - an apparent reference to the 11 September attacks, widely blamed on Bin Laden and al-Qaeda.

The speaker warned that America's allies - specifically Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany and Australia - would also be targeted if they continued to support Washington.

"You will be killed just as you kill," he said.

It was the clearest indication for nearly a year that Osama Bin Laden is alive.

US bombing of Tora Bora, December, 2001
Bin Laden was last reported alive in Tora Bora
Bin Laden was last reported alive in mid-December 2001, when US intelligence detected his voice in radio messages from Afghanistan's Tora Bora cave complex.

US officials believe that if he is alive, the al-Qaeda chief is probably in hiding along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The US has offered a $25m reward for information leading to Bin Laden's whereabouts.

The tape was analysed by the CIA and the US National Security Agency, which listens to communications around the world.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Ian McWilliam
"Their computer found differences compared to older Bin Laden tapes"

Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

18 Nov 02 | Middle East
13 Nov 02 | Middle East
12 Nov 02 | Middle East
10 Sep 02 | Middle East
18 Jul 02 | South Asia
04 Jul 02 | Panorama
22 Nov 01 | South Asia
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