Tape shows bin Laden boasting about destruction

By John J. Lumpkin

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Osama bin Laden contentedly recalled the Sept. 11 suicide attacks against America on a videotape released today by the Pentagon, saying the destruction exceeded his estimates and the event “benefitted Islam greatly.”

The hijackings were “a martyrdom operation,” Bin Laden said in a conversation with two aides and a Saudi sheik, but those who carried them out didn’t know the precise details until just before they boarded the planes.

The tape, amateurish in quality but chilling nonetheless, was released as part of an administration effort to support claims that bin Laden was the mastermind behind the attacks that killed thousands in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. The translation of the Arabic conversation was provided by the administration.

In it, bin Laden discussed some of the planning that led to the attacks, and recalled tuning in to the radio to hear American news broadcasts of the attack.

“They were overjoyed when the first plane hit the building,” he said of others listening with him that day. “So I said to them: Be patient.”

He said, “At the end of the newscast, they reported that a plane just hit the World Trade Center.”

“Allah be praised,” replied one of the other men in the videotape.

“After a little while, they announced that another plane had hit the World Trade Center,” bin Laden recalled. “The brothers who heard the news were overjoyed by it.”

Administration officials have said the tape was found in a house in Jalalabad after anti-Taliban forces moved in.

On the tape, bin Laden is sitting on the floor of a spare room, talking with several other men, including two aides and an unidentified Saudi sheik.

Entering the room, bin Laden bends over to greet the sheik, then smilingly takes his place next to him, sitting cross-legged on the floor.

The sheik promptly thanks bin Laden, saying, “You have given us weapons, you have given us hope and we thank Allah for you.”

“Everybody praises what you did, the great action you did, which was first and foremost by the grace of Allah,” the sheik continued. “This is the guidance of Allah and the blessed fruit of Jihad.”

“Thanks to Allah,” replied bin Laden.

The sheik informed bin Laden that another cleric had delivered a sermon in Saudi Arabia Sept. 11. “He said this was jihad and those people were not innocent victims,” the sheik said, apparently referring to the victims of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks.

References to jihad, or holy war, and Allah run throughout the videotape, and at one point bin Laden recites a portion of verse: “I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad.”

Moments later, he says, “This event made people think (about true Islam) which benefitted Islam greatly,” he said.

Bin Laden also goes into some detail in discussing some of the events leading up to the suicide hijackings.

“We calculated in advance the number of casualties who would be killed based on the position of the tower,” he said.

“We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. … Due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit, and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for,” he said, gesturing with one hand horizontal striking his other hand, held vertically, as if a plane hitting a building.

He then recalls tuning in the radio Sept. 11 to hear reports of the attacks.

As for the men who carried out the attacks, he said, “we did not reveal” the plan until “just before they boarded the planes.”

“The brothers who conducted the operation, all they knew was that they have a martyrdom operation and we asked each of them to go to America, but they didn’t know anything about the operation, not even one letter,” bin Laden said, according to the U.S. translation.

“But they were trained and we did not reveal the operation to them until they are there and just before the boarded the plane,” he added.

U.S. intelligence officers found the bin Laden tape in a residence in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. It bears a date stamp that says it was made Nov. 9. That was the day the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif fell to the rebel northern alliance.

Several members of the House and Senate Intelligence committees had urged the Bush administration to release the tape, although Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., said she was “concerned that the bin Laden tape is damaging to American security.”

Harman has said the tape may have been planted and could contain covert messages from bin Laden to his followers, and broadcasting it may play into his hands.

“I would have preferred that its distribution be limited to those with a need to know,” Harman said.

Officials had voiced similar concerns about other tapes bin Laden produced, but those were clearly meant for public release. Officials had asked U.S. broadcasters not to air those tapes in their entirety.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Marysville
1 pedestrian dead after car crash on I-5 south of Marysville

Around 5 p.m., a car crashed into a pedestrian on I-5. Investigators were working to determine exactly what happened.

FILE - A person walks near the Legislative Building, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. Washington's redistricting commission failed to meet its deadline and on Tuesday, Nov. 16, kicked the job of creating new political maps to the state Supreme Court. The bipartisan commission had a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Monday to approve new boundaries for congressional and legislative districts following the 2020 census. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Do Snohomish County lawmakers want a 2020 presidential rematch?

The Herald contacted seven Republican legislators representing parts of Snohomish County about their primary choice. Five did not respond.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

Photo provided by 
Economic Alliance
Economic Alliance presented one of the Washington Rising Stem Awards to Katie Larios, a senior at Mountlake Terrace High School.
Mountlake Terrace High School senior wins state STEM award

Katie Larios was honored at an Economic Alliance gathering: “A champion for other young women of color in STEM.”

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

Flowers for slain trooper Chris Gadd begin to collect outside Washington State Patrol District 7 Headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Police: Lynnwood man smoked marijuana before crashing into trooper

Chris Gadd, 27, was stopped along southbound I-5 when he was hit and killed early Saturday. Troopers suspect the driver was impaired.

Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside WSP District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed in a collision on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
State trooper killed, 1 arrested in crash on I-5 near Marysville

Authorities said Trooper Chris Gadd had been stopped along the freeway around 3 a.m. near 136th Street NE. A Lynnwood driver, 32, was arrested.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night on December 11, 2017. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Following lawsuit, Providence commits to improved care for Deaf patients

Three patients from Snohomish County sued Providence in 2022 for alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.