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Duke professor skeptical of bin laden tape

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http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story'section=local&id=3828678

Duke Professor Skeptical of bin Laden Tape

By Amber Rupinta

(01/19/06 -- DURHAM) - A Duke professor says he is doubtful about Thursday's audiotape from Osama bin Laden.

Bruce Lawrence has just published 'Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama Bin Laden,' a book translating bin Laden's writing. He is skeptical of Thursday's message.

'It was like a voice from the grave,' Lawrence said.

He thinks bin Laden is dead and has doubts about the tape. Lawrence recently analyzed more than 20 complete speeches and interviews of the al Qaida leader for his book. He says the new message is missing several key elements.

'There's nothing in this from the Koran. He's, by his own standards, a faithful Muslim,' Lawrence said. 'He quotes scripture in defense of his actions. There's no quotation from the Koran in the excerpts we got, no reference to specific events, no reference to past atrocities.'

While the CIA confirms the voice on the tape is bin Laden's, Lawrence questions when it was recorded. He says the timing of its release could be to divert attention from last week's U.S. air strike in Pakistan. The strike targeted bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, and killed four leading al Qaeda figures along with civilians.

Lawrence believes faulty Pakistani intelligence led to the strike and the civilian deaths, and the tape was leaked by Pakistani authorities to divert attention from their mistake.

'It led to a failed military operation where America got blamed, but they people who are really to blame are the ones who provided the intelligence,' Lawrence said. 'I think this is an effort to say were not going look at this terrible incident that happened.'

Another element that Lawrence takes issue with in bin Laden's latest message is it's length - - only 10 minutes. Previously, the shortest was 18 minutes.

ABC11 News Team

Amber Rupinta, Anchor/Reporter


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