CAIRO, Egypt (AP) Osama bin Laden praised God for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and swore America will never “dream of security” until “the infidels” armies leave the land of Muhammad,” in a videotaped statement aired after the strike launched yesterday by the United States and Britain against Afghanistan.
The taped comments appeared to be made in daylight, which would mean that the video was recorded before the attack last night on Afghanistan.
“There is America, hit by God in one of its softest spots. Its greatest buildings were destroyed, thank God for that. There is America, full of fear from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that,” bin Laden said in the video shown yesterday on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic satellite station.
“I swear by God … neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of security before we live it in Palestine, and not before all the infidel armies leave the land of Muhammad, peace by upon him,” bin Laden said in the tape aired yesterday.
Bin Laden”s war on America has been fueled in part by anger over U.S. support for Israel and the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam”s holiest shrines, including the tomb of the prophet Muhammad.
After the military action began yesterday, an official from Afghanistan”s ruling Taliban militia said that both bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar survived the initial wave of the attack. There was no way to verify the statement.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said U.S. officials were skeptical of the bin Laden tape, noting that it showed bin Laden in daylight. Fleischer said he did not believe President Bush had seen the tape as of mid-afternoon.
“The Taliban and Osama bin Laden have said all kinds of things that are often at odds with reality,” Fleischer said. “What he says is not as important as what he”s done.”
In the tape, bin Laden was shown dressed in fatigues and an Afghan headdress, sitting in a stone cave and flanked by two aides. It was the first time he has spoken himself about the Sept. 11 attacks, though he has issued denials of responsibility through intermediaries.
Bin Laden”s top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, who also heads the Egyptian militant group Islamic Jihad, appeared in the videotape at bin Laden”s side.
“People of America, your government is leading you into a losing battle,” al-Zawahri said. “Remember that your government was defeated in Vietnam, fled in panic from Lebanon, rushed out of Somalia, and was slapped across the face in Aden. Your government today is leading you into a losing war, where you will lose your sons and your money.”
The video opened with an aide, the spokesman for bin Laden”s al-Qaida group, reading an opening statement.
“What happened in the United States is a natural reaction to the ignorant policy of the United States,” said the aide, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith.
“If it continues with this policy, the sons of Islam will not stop their struggle. The American people have to know that what is happening to them now is the result of their support of this policy,” the statement said.
“The war against Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden is a war on Islam.”
Al-Jazeera, a Qatar-based independent TV network, has frequently aired exclusive footage of bin Laden, prompting the United States to raise concerns about the station”s coverage during a meeting with the emir of Qatar in Washington on Wednesday.