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In tape, bin Laden owns up to Sept. 11

By PAMELA HESS, UPI Pentagon Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Saudi terrorism suspect Osama bin Laden is seen acknowledging his role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington -- even calculating the number of deaths expected -- in a videotape released by the Pentagon Thursday.

"We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower," bin Laden is shown saying while relaxing against a wall in a house in Kandahar, Afghanistan. "We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all ... due to my experience in this field I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the areas where the plane hit and all the floors above it only.

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"This is all that we hoped for."

The tape was recovered from a house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in late November, the Pentagon said. The conversation was in Arabic, but had English subtitles provided both by the government and independent translators.

Bin Laden is showing saying he was notified the Thursday before the attack -- Sept. 6 -- that the operation was planned for Sept. 11.

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A sheikh meeting with bin Laden is seen saying since the attack he lives "in happiness, happiness ... I have not experienced or felt in a long time."

The subtitles show bin Laden saying some of the terrorist attackers did not know they were on a suicide mission, but Mohammed Atta, the leader of the group, knew.

"A plane crashing into a tall building was out of anyone's imagination," the sheikh said. "This was a great job. He (Atta) was one of the pious men in the organization."

The video begins with the end of bin Laden's remarks at a business dinner in Kandahar because the amateur cameraman ran out of tape and rewound it to capture the tail end of bin Laden's remarks. So, the chronological beginning of bin Laden's remarks is missing.

The Pentagon said, "The tape was released with an English translation and English subtitling, prepared independently by George Michael, translator, Diplomatic Language Services; and Kassem M. Wahba, Arabic language program coordinator, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. They collaborated on their translation and compared it with translations done by the U.S. government for consistency. There were no inconsistencies in the translations."

The translators provided both a translation and subtitles to the tape, which jumps from bin Laden to footage of what appears to be the landing gear of an American helicopter, and then al Qaida fighters brandishing rifles and chanting in prayer in an open field.

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Bin Laden is the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and a portion of the Pentagon near Washington and in which more than 3,000 people died.

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