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Videos of Osama bin Laden

There have been several videos released of Osama bin Laden mostly as prepared propaganda tapes released by Al-Qaida to Arabic media organisations such as Al-Jazeera. There has been debate in some countries about the propaganda value of releasing various tapes to the news media, due to concerns about incitement as well as the alleged possibility of hidden messages to domestic terrorist cells. Some countries broadcast the tapes in full, but others have not.

The United States government asked American news media not to air tapes that might serve bin Laden's propaganda purposes. The Pentagon, however, did release and urge the broadcast of one tape (with Pentagon translation) that supports their own claims concerning bin Laden's involvement in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. The news media within the U.S., although ostensibly independent, has nevertheless complied with U.S. government desires in this matter.

The United States had drawn controversy by releasing the tapes; some claim that it is a doctored video that serves the United States' end, though no one has offered any physical evidence that the tape is not genuine.

Tapes released by the US Government 13th December 2001

The United States State Department released, in a move criticized by some Arab groups, some "home" video tapes on December 13th 2001. The State Department claims that the tapes are authentic and were found in Afghanistan. The tapes show bin Laden and implicate him in the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack. In the tape Osama bin Laden displays in-depth knowledge of the attack, although only knowing the timing of the actual attack a few days in advance.

Some critics of the United States have alleged that this tape was released only because it is supportive of their claims that bin Laden was involved in the attacks. On the other hand, if this tape was actually found in Afghanistan, as the U.S. claims, and bin Laden never intended it to be shown publicly, U.S. concerns about hidden messages would not apply. Many people, including some in the U.S. press, continue to be skeptical of the government's rationale for not releasing other tapes, but few have questioned this tape's authenticity.

The events regarding the acquisition of the tape are not clear, but apparently it was obtained through some means from a guest house in Kandahar, and was supposedly filmed November 9th, or thereabout.

After the tape was released, United States Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "How could there be a doubt in anyone's mind any longer about what we have said from the very, very beginning, that he was the mastermind, he is the head of an organization that participates in this kind of evil activity?" President George W. Bush said it proved bin Laden "has no conscience and no soul".

The U.S. government and many people worldwide were anxiously awaiting the response to the tape's release in the Arab world. The U.S. had hoped it would finally prove bin Laden's guilt beyond dispute.

Ali Abunimah, vice president of the Arab-American Action Network, said that "[t]he tape should dispel any remaining doubt that bin Laden is an evil villain and responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Most serious people didn't need this tape to be convinced. The tapes that had already been released [by bin Laden] made it clear since he all but took responsibility for the attacks." Viewers of Al-Jazeera seemed unconvinced, at least one saying that bin Laden could have just been bragging to impress his host.

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