Canada and the World

‘ALL WE HOPED FOR’

Washington releases a videotape of Osama bin Laden gloating over Sept. 11

JONATHON GATEHOUSE December 24 2001
Canada and the World

‘ALL WE HOPED FOR’

Washington releases a videotape of Osama bin Laden gloating over Sept. 11

JONATHON GATEHOUSE December 24 2001

‘ALL WE HOPED FOR’

Canada and the World

Washington releases a videotape of Osama bin Laden gloating over Sept. 11

JONATHON GATEHOUSE

U BL: They were overjoyed when the first plane hit the building, so I said to them: be patient.

UBL: The brothers, who conducted the operation, all they knew was that they have a martyrdom operation

and we asked each of them to go to

America but they didn’t know anything about the operation, not even one letter. But they were

trained and we did not reveal the

even one letter But they were trained and we did not reveal the Operation to them until they are

there and just before they boarded

The shaky, poorly-lit camera work had the familiar feel of a rec-room party video, but the chilling words and images offered an unparalleled portrait of malevolence. In the three months since the attacks on New York City and Washington, cynics and doubters around the world have demanded concrete proof that Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network were behind the events of Sept. 11. Last week, the United States government provided what it says is the video equivalent of a

smoking gun—a tape in which the terrorist leader admits responsibility for the hijackings and crashes, describing their planning and execution with evident glee.

The hour-long video was discovered earlier this month by coalition forces at an abandoned Taliban guesthouse in Jalalabad. Date-stamped Nov. 9, the tape shows a relaxed bin Laden, sitting crosslegged on a mattress, discussing the attacks with a group of supporters. The two sequences, totaling 37 minutes, are interspersed with footage of the wreck of an American military helicopter (the amateur

videographer apparently started recording bin Ladens comments in the middle of the tape and was forced to rewind to its beginning to capture the end of the meeting).

Speaking in a low rumbling voice, the terrorist tells how the death toll and destruction at the World Trade Center exceeded even his own “optimistic” predictions. He smiles and chuckles as he talks about the second jet hitting the south tower, miming the impact with his fist and an upstretched palm. His audience, including a visiting Saudi cleric, offers its approval frequently, praising Allah. Bin

Laden finishes the meeting by reciting a poem about a bloody battlefield.

Reaction to the video was low key in Western capitals, with leaders like Prime Minister Jean Chrétien saying it offers visual and audio confirmation of what they have known all along. In New York, the tape stirred up hurt—and anger. But in the Middle East, where there is a deep-seated suspicion of anything Washington says, many deemed the tape to be inconclusive. Some critics, noting that Hollywood has pledged its support in the war against terrorism, accused the U.S. of manufacturing evidence. “Of course it’s fabricated,” said Diaa Rashwan, a Cairo academic who studies Islamic fundamentalist movements. “If this is the kind of evidence America has, then the blood of thousands who died and were injured in Afghanistan is on Bush’s head.”

Some of bin Laden’s comments:

“We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for.”

“We were at [inaudible] when the event took place. We had notification since the previous Thursday that the event would take place that day. We had finished our work that day and had the radio on. It

Shaykh: A plane crashing into a tall building was out of anyone's imagination. This was a great job. He was one of the pious men in the

was 5:30 p.m. our time. Immediately, we heard the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. After a little while, they announced that another plane had hit the World Trade Center. The brothers who heard the news were overjoyed by it.”

“The brothers, who conducted the operation, all they knew was that they have a martyrdom operation and we asked each of them to go to America but they didn’t know anything about the operation, not even one letter. But they were trained and we did not reveal the operation to them until they are there and just before they boarded the planes. Those who were trained to fly didn’t know the others. One group of people did not know the other group.”

“We were at a camp in Kandahar. This brother belonged to the majority of the group. He came close and told me that he saw, in a dream, a tall building in America. At that point, I was worried that maybe the secret would be revealed if everyone starts seeing it in their dream. So I closed the subject. I told him if he sees another dream, not to tell anybody, because people will be upset with him.”

“They were overjoyed when the first plane hit the building, so I said to them: be patient. The difference between the first and the second plane hitting the towers was 20 minutes. And the difference between the first plane and the plane that hit the Pentagon was one hour.”

“[Reciting a poem] I witness that against the sharp blade/They always faced difficulties and stood together/When the darkness comes upon us and we are bit by a sharp tooth, I say/‘Our homes are flooded with blood and the tyrant is freely wandering in our homes’/And from the battlefield vanished/The brightness of swords and the horses/And over weeping sounds now/We hear the beats of drums and rhythm/They are storming his forts/ And shouting: ‘We will not stop our raids/ Until you free our lands.’ ”

“Those youth who conducted the operations said in deeds, in New York and Washington, speeches that overshadowed all other speeches made everywhere else in the world. The speeches are understood by both Arabs and non-Arabs—even by Chinese. It is above all what the media said. Some of them said that in Holland, at one of the centres, the number of people who accepted Islam during the days that followed the operations were more than the people who accepted Islam in the last 11 years. I heard someone on Islamic radio who owns a school in America say: ‘We don’t have time to keep up with the demands of those who are asking about Islamic books to learn about Islam.’ This event made people think [about true Islam] which benefited Islam gready.” C3