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Bin Laden Wants To Be Character Witness

From the DNC’s Associated Press:

Bin Laden: Moussaoui not linked to 9/11

By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF, Associated Press Writer

CAIRO, Egypt – Osama bin Laden purportedly said in an audio tape Tuesday that neither Zacarias Moussaoui — the only person convicted in the U.S. for the Sept. 11 attacks — nor anyone held at Guantanamo had anything to do with the al-Qaida operation.

"He had no connection at all with Sept. 11," the speaker claiming to be bin Laden said in the tape posted on the Internet.

"I am the one in charge of the 19 brothers and I never assigned brother Zacarias to be with them in that mission," he said, referring to the 19 hijackers.

Two counterterrorism officials in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. intelligence is aware of the bin Laden message. One of the officials said there is no reason to doubt its authenticity.

Bin Laden also said that none of the hundreds of terror suspects held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was involved and most had no ties to al-Qaida.

"Our brothers in Guantanamo … have no connection whatsoever to the events of Sept. 11," he said, adding that "some of them oppose al-Qaida’s methods of calling to fight America."

Bin Laden called all the detainees innocent, claiming they were jailed to justify the cost of the war on terror.

"There must be some justification for the tremendous spending of hundreds of billions of dollars on the (U.S.) defense department and other agencies," he said.

The terror mastermind did indicate that two suspects had links to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon: "All the prisoners to date have no connection to the Sept. 11 events or knew anything about them, except for two of the brothers," bin Laden said. But he did not provide names or elaborate further and it wasn’t possible to determine if or where they were held.

One of the counterterror officials said the message is part of bin Laden’s continuing effort to demonstrate he is a relevant extremist leader, who is knowledgeable of current events. The official said the message was made for propaganda purposes, and it does not contain any threats.

Moussaoui, a 37-year-old Frenchman and admitted al-Qaida member, was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month after a jury ruled that he was responsible for at least one death on Sept. 11.

The al-Qaida chief said the Sept. 11 hijackers were divided into two groups, "pilots and assistants."

"Since Zacarias Moussaoui was still learning how to fly, he wasn’t No. 20 in the group, as your government has claimed," bin Laden said.

He continued that Moussaoui was not a security risk for al-Qaida, because he did not have knowledge of the plot.

"Brother Moussaoui was arrested two weeks before the events, and if he had known something — even very little — about the Sept. 11 group, we would have informed the leader of the operation, Mohammad Atta, and the others … to leave America before being discovered," Bin Laden said.

Bin Laden said Moussaoui’s confession — that he helped plan the attacks — was "void," calling it the result of pressures during imprisonment.

Edward MacMahon, one of the lawyers who defended Moussaoui during his death penalty trial, said bin Laden wouldn’t have made the best witness for his client, even with his statements that Moussaoui had no role in the attacks.

"I never believed there was any evidence to support Moussaoui’s story (that he was the 20th highjacker), and that’s what I told the jury," he said.

The audio message, which is less than five minutes long, was transmitted with a still photo of bin Laden.

If authentic, it would be the third by bin Laden this year. In a tape aired on Arab television in April, he denounced the United States and Europe for cutting off funds to the Hamas-led Palestinian government, accusing them of leading a "Zionist" war on Islam, and urged followers to fight any U.N. peacekeeping force in Sudan.

In January, bin Laden said in an audiotape that al-Qaida was preparing new attacks in the United States but offered a truce — though his lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahri later issued a video saying Washington had refused to take the offer.

The January message was bin Laden’s first in over a year, his longest period of silence since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

His deputy al-Zawahri releases messages more frequently, appearing in videotapes, while bin Laden has not appeared in a video since October 2004.

Bin Laden did mentioned by name two journalists and a relief worker accused of being aligned to the terror network, saying they had no such ties. Sami al-Hajj, an Al-Jazeera cameraman, was arrested in Afghanistan in 2001 and held at Guantanamo Bay. Tayssir Alouni, an Al-Jazeera correspondent, was convicted by a Spanish court of collaborating with al-Qaida, though he denied the charges. And Abdul Aziz al-Matrafi, who founded an Afghan charity that was branded by the U.S. as supporting terror.

"Well, if old Dinsy says so, that’s good enough for me." (A little Python reference there.)

We should let Moussaoui and all the gentlefolk at Gitmo go. What harm could they do?

Here’s a link to Osama’s latest tape, if you can’t get enough of the guy.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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