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Wednesday, 12 December, 2001, 14:01 GMT
Bin Laden video to be released
al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden (L) with his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri
Several translations have been made of the Bin Laden video
US officials are expected to release a video which they believe proves that Osama Bin Laden masterminded the 11 September attacks on the United States.

President George W Bush says the 40-minute videotape - found at a house in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad - shows that the al-Qaeda leader "has no conscience and no soul, that he represents the worst of civilisation."


He laughs. He smiles. He marvels at the destruction and death.

US Senator Richard Durbin
Vice-President Dick Cheney and other American officials have described the amateurish video - believed to have been filmed at a dinner last month - as a "smoking gun" that leaves "no doubt" about the al-Qaeda leader's guilt.

They say the recording, thought to have been made for internal al-Qaeda purposes, shows Bin Laden gloating over the attacks in a conversation with a Saudi sheikh.

According to US Senator Richard Durbin, Bin Laden says he heard about the first hijacked plane crashing into the World Trade Center on the radio.

He then told those around him to wait because "there will be more."

"Then he laughs again as he described the second plane crashing into the World Trade Center," Mr Durbin said.

Bin Laden identifies Mohamed Atta, suspected of hijacking the first plane, as the group's leader, according to Mr Durbin.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, however, said he would not judge the contents of the tape until he had seen several translations and could connect Bin Laden's words with his gestures and body language.

Osama Bin Laden on Al Jazeera television
The al-Qaeda leader uses videos to spread his anti-US message

He said more than one translation of the Arabic video - not carried out by the US government - was needed to dispel any doubts about accuracy or authenticity.

Several senators have called on the Bush administration to make the video public in order to refute suggestions that Bin Laden was not behind the attacks, which killed more than 3,000 people.

Conspiracy theory

Senator Ron Wyden says he hopes the tape will remove suspicions in countries such as Pakistan that the 11 September attacks were an Israeli plot aimed at drawing the United States into a war with Islamic countries.

"This video will open a lot of eyes," Mr Wyden said. "The world will see that you are dealing with a level of pathology ... that is very, very twisted and sick."

Mr Durbin said Bin Laden - familiar with the building industry as the son of a billionaire Saudi construction magnate - was surprised the twin towers had collapsed.

Bin Laden is also said to have expressed amusement that some of the hijackers did not know that they were on a suicide mission.

The al-Qaeda leader has repeatedly denied involvement in the attacks, but has praised the hijackers.

A senior US government official was quoted as saying that he expected the Pentagon to make the videotape public, probably on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, White House officials said Mr Bush was in favour of releasing it, but had to ensure that the disclosure would not jeopardise American intelligence sources in Afghanistan.

A British newspaper, The Guardian, has reported that the Qatar-based television network al-Jazzera recorded an exclusive interview with Bin Laden in October but never broadcast it.

The interview was obtained by British and American intelligence agencies.

It is believed to be the undisclosed evidence which UK Prime Minister Tony Blair was referring to when he said he had proof that Bin Laden was behind the attacks.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Sackur reports from Washington
"If they release it, it may been seen as a crude piece of propaganda"
White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer
"This tape is of a different nature to the earlier propaganda"
Walter Pincus of the Washington Post
"Will this tape explain to Bin Laden's supporters that they are wrong?"
See also:

04 Nov 01 | South Asia
Bin Laden video 'shows desperation'
05 Oct 01 | Americas
The investigation and the evidence
04 Oct 01 | South Asia
Pakistan says terror evidence 'strong'
04 Oct 01 | UK Politics
The UK's Bin Laden dossier in full
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