WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Al-Qaida head Osama bin Laden for the first time Friday claimed responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
"We decided to destroy towers in America," because "we want to regain the freedom of our nation," bin Laden said in an 18-minute tape aired on the Arab Al-Jazeera network.
The tape was bin Laden's first appearance in more than a year. He directly addressed the United States, telling residents they are responsible for their own safety. The White House said the tape was authentic.
"Your security is not in the hand of (Sen. John) Kerry (D-Mass.) or (President) Bush or al-Qaida," bin Laden said. "Your security is in your hand and every state that doesn't mess with our security ... this way you secure your own security."
He criticized Bush's handling of the Sept. 11 attacks, saying, "I never thought the supreme commander would leave 50,000 people in the buildings (twin towers) at the time they needed him the most."
In response, Bush said: "Let me make this very clear. Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country."
Kerry said: "All of us in this country, are completely united. Democrat, Republican there is no such thing."