2004 Osama bin Laden video

2004 Osama bin Laden video

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On October 29, 2004, at 21:00 UTC, the Arab television network, Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera is an independent broadcaster owned by the state of Qatar through the Qatar Media Corporation and headquartered in Doha, Qatar...

, broadcast excerpts from a videotape of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

addressing the people of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, in which he accepts responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

, condemns the Bush government's response to those attacks and presents those attacks as part of a campaign of revenge and deterrence motivated by his witnessing of the destruction in the Lebanese Civil War
Lebanese Civil War
The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon. The war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in an estimated 150,000 to 230,000 civilian fatalities. Another one million people were wounded, and today approximately 350,000 people remain displaced. There was also a mass exodus of...

 in 1982.

Content


The video is reported to be 18 minutes in length; Osama bin Laden only speaks for 14 minutes 39 seconds. Al-Jazeera released a transcript of the complete tape on November 1, 2004.

Osama bin Laden appears wearing a turban
Turban
In English, Turban refers to several types of headwear popularly worn in the Middle East, North Africa, Punjab, Jamaica and Southwest Asia. A commonly used synonym is Pagri, the Indian word for turban.-Styles:...

 and a white robe partially covered by a lavish golden mantle
Mantle (clothing)
A mantle is a type of loose garment usually worn over indoor clothing to serve the same purpose as an overcoat...

, standing in front of an almost featureless brown background and reading his comments from papers resting on a podium. He moves both of his arms (dispelling rumors that one of them is limp after having been wounded) and looks healthy as far as can be told, but a bit older and greyer than in his former tapes. His remarks, in Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 but addressed to citizens of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, instruct them that "the best way to avoid another Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

" (a reference to the September 11, 2001 attacks), is to not threaten the security of Muslim nations, such as Palestine and Lebanon.

The tape also contains bin Laden's first public acknowledgment of al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

's involvement in the attacks on the U.S., noting that he first thought about attacking the World Trade Center
World Trade Center
The original World Trade Center was a complex with seven buildings featuring landmark twin towers in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. The complex opened on April 4, 1973, and was destroyed in 2001 during the September 11 attacks. The site is currently being rebuilt with five new...

 in 1982, after watching Israeli aircraft
Israeli Air Force
The Israeli Air Force is the air force of the State of Israel and the aerial arm of the Israel Defense Forces. It was founded on May 28, 1948, shortly after the Israeli Declaration of Independence...

 bomb Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 during the 1982 Invasion of Lebanon:
"While I was looking at these destroyed towers in Lebanon, it sparked in my mind that the tyrant should be punished with the same and that we should destroy towers in America, so that it tastes what we taste and would be deterred from killing our children and women."


He also admits for the first time a direct link to the attacks, saying that they were carried out because "we are a free people who do not accept injustice, and we want to regain the freedom of our nation". Bin Laden threatens further retaliation against the U.S., noting that the conditions which provoked the 2001 attacks still exist and compares America to "corrupt" Arab governments.

He speaks of his desire to bankrupt the U.S., saying:

"[It is] easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there and cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses ... This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat."


He dismisses as rhetoric claims by U.S. President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 that the attacks occurred because Islamic extremists "hate freedom", saying: "If Bush says we hate freedom, let him tell us why we didn't attack Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, for example. It is known that freedom-haters don't have defiant spirits like those of the 19
Organizers of the September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks were carried out by 19 hijackers affiliated with al-Qaeda. The hijackers were organized into four teams, each led by a pilot-trained hijacker with four "muscle hijackers", who were trained to help subdue the pilots, passengers, and crew.The first hijackers to arrive in the...

 — may God have mercy on them".

Bin Laden further accuses U.S. President George W. Bush of misleading the American people during the previous three years — "Despite entering the fourth year after September 11, Bush is still deceiving you and hiding the truth from you and therefore the reasons are still there to repeat what happened" — as well as criticizing Bush's actions on the day of the attacks: "It never occurred to us that the Commander-in-Chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the country would leave 50,000 citizens in the two towers
World Trade Center
The original World Trade Center was a complex with seven buildings featuring landmark twin towers in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. The complex opened on April 4, 1973, and was destroyed in 2001 during the September 11 attacks. The site is currently being rebuilt with five new...

 to face those horrors alone because he thought listening to a child discussing her goats
The Pet Goat
"The Pet Goat" is a children's story from the book Reading Mastery II: Storybook 1 by Siegfried Engelmann and Elaine C. Bruner. The book is part of the 31 volume Reading Mastery series published by the SRA Macmillan early-childhood education division of McGraw-Hill...

 was more important."

Immediate reactions


President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 said:

"Let me make this very clear: Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country. I'm sure Senator Kerry agrees with this. I also want to say to the American people that we're at war with these terrorists and I am confident that we will prevail."


Presidential candidate Senator John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

 said:

"Let me make it clear, crystal clear: as Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. They are barbarians, and I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes. Period."

Intelligence response


Although Al Jazeera, when broadcasting the footage on its evening newscast, did not disclose the source of the video, sources within the United States intelligence community have confirmed that the speaker, who appears behind a lectern, is indeed bin Laden. By mentioning 2004 U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry by name, the tape would seem to prove that bin Laden was still alive at least mid-way through 2004.

According to the Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse is a French news agency, the oldest one in the world, and one of the three largest with Associated Press and Reuters. It is also the largest French news agency. Currently, its CEO is Emmanuel Hoog and its news director Philippe Massonnet...

, U.S. diplomats in Qatar were given a copy of a videotape of al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden, before it aired on Al-Jazeera television; the diplomats unsuccessfully sought to prevent the Arabic-language network from broadcasting it. The United States State Department requested that the government of Qatar
Qatar
Qatar , also known as the State of Qatar or locally Dawlat Qaṭar, is a sovereign Arab state, located in the Middle East, occupying the small Qatar Peninsula on the northeasterly coast of the much larger Arabian Peninsula. Its sole land border is with Saudi Arabia to the south, with the rest of its...

 (where Al Jazeera is located) discourage the station from airing the videotape, according to a senior State Department official.

Although the tape was analyzed by American intelligence to determine if it contains any coded messages to operatives, White House spokesman Scott McClellan
Scott McClellan
Scott McClellan is a former White House Press Secretary for President George W. Bush, and author of a controversial No. 1 New York Times bestseller about the Bush Administration titled What Happened. He replaced Ari Fleischer as press secretary in July 2003 and served until May 10, 2006...

 commented that there were no plans to raise the U.S. terrorism alert level
Homeland Security Advisory System
In the United States, the Homeland Security Advisory System was a color-coded terrorism threat advisory scale. The different levels trigger specific actions by federal agencies and state and local governments, and they affect the level of security at some airports and other public facilities. It...

, as no specific threats were made in the tape.

Ron Suskind
Ron Suskind
Ron Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize winning American journalist and best-selling author. He was the senior national affairs writer for The Wall Street Journal from 1993 to 2000 and has published the books A Hope in the Unseen, The Price of Loyalty, The One Percent Doctrine, The Way of the World and...

 noted that the CIA analysis of the video led them to the consensus view that the tape was designed strategically to help President Bush win reelection in 2004. Deputy CIA director John E. McLaughlin
John E. McLaughlin
John Edward McLaughlin is the former Deputy Director of Central Intelligence and former Acting Director of Central Intelligence. McLaughlin is an accomplished magician and lectured on magic at the 2006 International Brotherhood of Magicians Annual Convention in Miami, Florida...

 noted at one meeting, "Bin Laden certainly did a nice favor today for the President." Suskind quoted Jami Miscik
Jami Miscik
Judith A. "Jami" Miscik rose from the analytic ranks of the Central Intelligence Agency to become Deputy Director for Intelligence, the Agency's seniormost analytic post. In 2005 she left CIA to become Global Head of Sovereign Risk for the now-bankrupt financial services firm Lehman Brothers....

, CIA deputy associate director for intelligence, as saying "Certainly, he would want Bush to keep doing what he’s doing for a few more years." The same speculation has been made by Bahukutumbi Raman
Bahukutumbi Raman
Bahukutumbi Raman is a former Additional Secretary , Cabinet Secretariat of the Government of India and former head of the counter-terrorism division of India's external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing . He is currently the director of the Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai...

.

Public response


The 2004 tape boosted the popularity of American President George W. Bush. President Bush opened up a six-point lead over his opponent Senator John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

 in the first opinion poll to include sampling taken after the videotape was broadcast.

See also

  • Videos of Osama bin Laden
    Videos of Osama bin Laden
    There were several video and audio recordings released by, or claiming to be produced by, Osama bin Laden between 2001 and 2011. Most of the tapes were released directly to Arabic language satellite television networks, primarily Al Jazeera....

  • 2007 Osama bin Laden video
    2007 Osama bin Laden video
    The 2007 Osama bin Laden video originally appeared in a banner ad on an Islamic militant website regularly used by Al-Qaeda on September 6, 2007. The ad carried a picture of Osama bin Laden and the logo of Al-Qaeda's media production company, As-Sahab. An accompanying translated message read "Soon,...

  • October surprise
    October surprise
    In American political jargon, an October surprise is a news event with the potential to influence the outcome of an election, particularly one for the U.S. presidency...

  • The One Percent Doctrine
    The One Percent Doctrine
    The One Percent Doctrine is a nonfiction book by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind about America's hunt for terrorists since September 11th.On July 24th 2006, it reached number 3 on the New York Times Best Seller list....

  • Zinoviev letter
    Zinoviev Letter
    The "Zinoviev Letter" refers to a controversial document published by the British press in 1924, allegedly sent from the Communist International in Moscow to the Communist Party of Great Britain...