Rumsfeld: Bin Laden video outdated

By PAMELA HESS, Pentagon correspondent  |  April 15, 2002 at 5:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 15 (UPI) -- A newly surfaced videotape showing elusive al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden appears to be cobbled from videotapes recorded last fall after the Sept. 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said at the Pentagon Monday.

"Anything I can tell or was told, at least thus far, the impression is that it is not new. The tape is new, but it does not reflect anything of (bin Laden) from recent periods," he said. "There isn't any reason that anyone who has communicated with me can find to believe that they are anything other than somewhat dated."

Rumsfeld viewed part of the videotape on Sunday, he said.

The Qatar-based Arab news network Al Jazeera showed clips from a new videotape Monday and will release the entire tape on Thursday, according to CNN. It is likely the same tape Rumsfeld viewed over the weekend, he said.

The tape shows bin Laden and his chief lieutenant and personal doctor, Egyptian Ayman al Zawahiri, kneeling and talking. A separate clip shows one of the Sept.11 bombers talking about the coming attack. Superimposed on the tape is footage of the burning World Trade Center.

The whereabouts of Osama bin Laden remain a mystery to the Pentagon, which blames him for the Sept. 11 attack. A videotape recovered from a house in Afghanistan and released by the government in December showed bin Laden talking with some supporters about the destruction of the World Trade Center.

Also in December, Al Jazeera released a 30-minute videotape featuring a gaunt bin Laden. The tape was widely noted because in it he did not move his left arm, with which he normally gestures a great deal while speaking.

In that tape, bin Laden seemed to indicate he could be near death.

"God willing, America's end is near. And it doesn't depend on my continued existence," he said. "Whether Osama is killed or not, the awakening has begun."

Because of the general nature of his comments and the reference to his death, it was speculated this tape was made earlier in the fall and may have been released to counter rumors of his death.

Rumsfeld recently noted bin Laden's public absence with "interest."

"It is interesting to me that Osama bin Laden doesn't seem to be putting out any videotapes lately," he said at a Pentagon press conference April 8.

Rumsfeld has gone to great pains to shift the emphasis of the war coverage away from capturing bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar toward ridding Afghanistan of its al Qaida residents.

"It's hard to find an individual. That's why when we began this thing I did not personalize it into (bin Laden) or Omar," he said at the same press briefing. "You know, some of the Nazi war criminals weren't caught for years afterwards, years. They found them in South America. So does that mean that we didn't win World War II? No."

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