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New tape has sliced audio

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Experts question age of new bin Laden tape

From Friday's Globe and Mail

Many of the world's terrorism experts spent the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks poring over images of the men who gave new meaning to the date.The new video and audio tape of Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, broadcast worldwide on Wednesday, were still puzzling a series of experts yesterday.

A Central Intelligence Agency official authenticated a section of the audio as an actual recording of Dr. al-Zawahri, but could not confirm the other voice to be that of Mr. bin Laden.

Another al-Qaeda expert said the video appeared to have been filmed in western Pakistan, where Mr. bin Laden was rumoured to have been hiding as recently as this summer.

They noted that Mr. bin Laden's beard is whiter, his stoop more pronounced, his physique thinner and more haggard as he clambers over boulders holding an assault rifle.

But other analysts questioned the age of the tape, saying the audio portion was clearly a collection of two spliced voice-overs and previously broadcast bits.

Intelligence experts pointed out that the voice that is purportedly Mr. bin Laden's fails to make reference to any recent events.

Iraq goes unmentioned, as does the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

The exhortation to bury Americans in "the graveyard of Iraq" comes from Dr. al-Zawahri and was broadcast earlier last month.

The men are not seen speaking during the eight-minute tape.

Paul Wilkinson, a global terrorism expert at Scotland's University of St. Andrews, said the timing of the tape's release was more important than its content.

"Al-Qaeda is alive and kicking and this will reinforce the fanaticism of its followers," Prof. Wilkinson said. He disputed U.S. President George W. Bush's recent claim that two-thirds of the organization's leadership has been neutralized.

"People have been captured, some of them significant, but even the significant figures can be replaced . . .

"There's been over 100 attacks by al-Qaeda and its affiliates since 9/11 -- some of them, as we saw in Bali, extremely lethal -- and many others have been thwarted."

Officials at the Arabic satellite television network Al-Jazeera, which broadcast this week's tape, said it was probably made in May or June.

Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, who interviewed Mr. bin Laden three times from 1997 to 2001, thought the tape was likely made before that, perhaps as long as six months ago. He noted that the two men were filmed in daylight wearing heavy clothes.

The location looked more like the border area of Pakistan than Afghanistan, Mr. Mir said.

"The mountains of southern Afghanistan are yellow, they are without any grass, without any greenery, and the rocks are not black like those in the video," he told Agence France-Presse.

"There were white flowers and trees and grass in the background . . . I think the tape is definitely reflecting that he was around [Pakistan's] Kunar province a few months ago."

French terrorism expert Roland Jacquard cautioned against drawing any firm conclusions.

"Given that Osama bin Laden has not appeared on a video cassette for many months it's pretty incomprehensible that in the only video cassette where he appears beside Ayman al-Zawahri he doesn't speak, he just allows the latter to speak," Mr. Jacquard told France's Europe 1 radio.

"The voice of bin Laden we hear in the background, thanking the World Trade Center plane hijackers, is exactly the same message that was broadcast in a video cassette by Al-Jazeera on Dec. 26, 2001."

Dr. al-Zawahri's message was broadcast by Dubai's Al-Arabiya network on Aug. 3.

"Above all [this is] a message from the organization's No. 2, al-Zawahri, who wants to remind the world and the United States on Sept. 11 that he's still around," Mr. Jacquard said.

Cia says bl voice not verified { September 12 2003 }
Compilation of repeats { September 12 2003 }
New binladen videotape warns real battle { September 11 2003 }
New purported video tape
New tape bin laden alive
New tape has sliced audio
Tape is old material { September 11 2003 }

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