The Arab TV satellite channel Al Jazeera aired a videotape Thursday from the al Qaeda terror network featuring Osama bin Laden and his top deputy warning Americans to dig their graves.
"The United States will not survive, will not feel any safety or any security," bin Laden says on the tape. The tape features images of the World Trade Center burning and collapsing, Israelis fighting Palestinians, dead Palestinian children, and holy sites in Jerusalem, Mecca and northern India.
Excerpts of the video, complete with narration and graphics, first aired on the Qatar-based network on Monday. Although other tapes have surfaced showing bin Laden discussing the Sept. 11 attacks, the new tape contains the most explicit acceptance of responsibility from the al Qaeda network to date.
The video, which contains several segments that appear to have been made at different times, features bin Laden, top al Qaeda deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and a man identified as a Sept. 11 hijacker who reads his last testament into the camera.
The video portrays the 19 hijackers as holy warriors and calls on other young Arab men to follow.
"They did it and they believe in God and what's with God is much, much better than this life and that's not just the word, but they say the words of Koran and also they believe in it and they apply it until it came to be in their minds and in their hearts and in their soul because they see that God, the mighty, the mighty God - they see it in themselves," bin Laden said.
His deputy said the mission of the hjackers showed their power rivaled that of the world's only superpower. "Whoever is going to look at the lives of these people, he would see that there is no difference between ... the power of 19 people and the power of the United States," Zawahiri said.
The hijacker, identified by Al Jazeera as Ahmed Ibrahim A. Al Haznawi, encouraged other young men to join the holy war against the United States. "We are not going to achieve victory unless we spill our blood," he said. Haznawi, who went down with United Flight 93 in rural Pennsylvania, appeared in military fatigues over a black shirt and a black-and-white checked scarf around his head.
He also defended the deadly bombing attacks on the US Embassies in Africa in 1998 and the USS Cole in 2000, saying they were necessary to defend Arabs from the United States. "It's not a suicidal attack, it's a martyr attack because we are not able to get our enemy unless we do it this way," Haznawi said.
Slain Al Qaeda Fighters Shown
On Wednesday, the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation aired another tape, which appears to be the same video aired on Al Jazeera, in which bin Laden praised the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a major blow to the US economy.
"The aftermath losses cannot be estimated in monetary terms due to its huge number and complexity. It's on the increase, thank God," bin Laden said. "The amount lost, in the successful attacks reached more than US$1 trillion and we thank God for that. May God accept the brothers as martyrs in heaven."
Bin Laden also noted that the attacks prompted airlines to lay off thousands of workers and said he had read studies that showed that 70 percent of Americans have suffered from depression or psychological problems since the attacks.
MBC's footage showed the same two men facing the camera in the same positions against an apparently identical background.
In other parts of the MBC tape, al Qaeda claims official responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks for the first time as spokesman Soliman Abu Kaith says, "We have done what God has ordered us to do. God called on us for 'jihad' and we complied. ... We have hit the head of evil on their home soil. We fulfilled God's wish, and He gives us what he promised us, either victory or death as martyrs."
The MBC excerpt also showed slain al Qaeda fighters and members of bin Laden's organization brandishing weapons. According to the station, evidence showed the tape was made in the first half of December. MBC officials did not say how they obtained the tape or what evidence they had indicating the date it was taped.
The surfacing of these tape excerpts come a week after Rumsfeld noted during a Pentagon briefing that no one had heard from bin Laden and no new tapes had been released since last December.
In mid-December, the Pentagon released a videotape dated Nov. 9 of bin Laden that officials said was found in a house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. On Dec. 27, Al Jazeera aired a bin Laden videotape it said was sent anonymously from Pakistan to the station. Another tape of a confident bin Laden being interviewed by Al Jazeera in October aired on CNN in January.
Speculation Over Bin Laden's Alleged Escape
Also on Wednesday, the Pentagon denied reports suggesting bin Laden was in Tora Bora when US aircrafts began bombing the Afghan cave complex in late November, but escaped shortly afterwards.
"We have seen repeated speculation about his possible location," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. "But it has obviously not been verifiable. Had it been verifiable, one would have thought that someone might have done something about it. In terms of any solid evidence, there wasn't any. There isn't now."
However, Pentagon officials also said bin Laden may still be in Tora Bora.
"A few days ago we believed that he was in that area," said Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem.
On Wednesday, The Washington Post said bin Laden escaped Tora Bora in early December because US troops were not immediately sent to pursue the al Qaeda leader.
"We have high confidence that he was there, and also high confidence, but not as high, that he got out,"an unidentified official told the Post. "We have several accounts from people who are in detention, al Qaeda people who were free at the time and are not free now."