An audiotape allegedly made by Osama bin Laden surfaced May 23 in which the al Qaeda leader says Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged 20th hijacker on Sept. 11, was not involved in that plot and that bin Laden himself personally assigned the roles for each of the 19 "brothers" involved. The new audiotape serves to remind the Muslim masses that the United States has failed to capture the alive-and-well bin Laden, and underscores the notion that it has instead convicted an innocent man.
An audiotape allegedly made by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden surfaced May 23 on a militant Web site. In the tape, bin Laden says Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged 20th hijacker on Sept. 11, was not involved in the plot and that bin Laden himself personally assigned the roles for each of the 19 "brothers" involved. The new audiotape serves as a reminder to the Muslim masses that the United States has failed to capture bin Laden and underscores the notion that it has instead convicted an innocent man. This is the first audiotape attributed to bin Laden since April 23, when Al Jazeera aired another recording that purportedly featured the al Qaeda leader. In that recording, bin Laden referred to Western efforts to isolate the Hamas-led Palestinian National Authority and proposed peacekeeping efforts to end the Darfur crisis in Sudan as examples of the West's "crusader war" against Islam. Though the details of the new tape are still sketchy, bin Laden is sending a message to his followers that he was the central figure behind the Sept. 11 attacks to rebut any suggestion he played a minor role — or no role at all — in the plot. A great many Muslims do not believe al Qaeda and bin Laden were behind the Sept. 11 attacks. But then again, doubters could always dismiss the tape as being doctored. By releasing the tape following Moussaoui's May 3 sentence of life in prison without parole for his role in the attacks, bin Laden seeks to discredit the U.S. legal system and to undermine U.S. efforts to bring militants to justice, suggesting that the United States has not captured any of the true perpetrators. The tape's release also comes less than two weeks after Moussaoui's sentencing, suggesting bin Laden feels he is hiding securely enough to risk recording another audiotape with such little lead time before its public release.