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Alleged alqaida tape speaker says hes american { October 29 2004 }

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Friday, October 29, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Alleged al-Qaida tape aired; speaker says he's from U.S.

By Seattle Times news services

WASHINGTON ABC News last night aired a videotape of a purported American member of al-Qaida declaring that a new series of terrorist attacks against the United States could come "at any moment."

ABC, which has held the tape since Monday, acted after being told by the CIA that the video bears "all the trademarks of an al-Qaida production," as reporter Brian Ross explained, but the television network said U.S. intelligence officials could not verify the tape's authenticity.

A U.S. intelligence official told Reuters on Wednesday that the film appeared to have been released by al-Qaida's media organization and contains the logo of an al-Qaida production group. The official called the tape's content "classic al-Qaida propaganda" but said it appeared to have been edited.

The man on the 75-minute tape, naming 13 current and former U.S. officials, including President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, says "the streets of America will run red with blood." The man also makes references to comedian Bill Maher, who once said that suicide attackers were less cowardly than long-distance cruise-missile launchers, and Sept. 11 commission Chairman Thomas Kean. The man also criticizes Muslims who have lost their faith.

Invoking Osama bin Laden's name, he says that "September 11 was but the opening salvo of the global war on America."

The video appears to have been made as recently as late summer because the speaker discusses the Darfur conflict in Sudan, makes a reference to the Massachusetts same-sex-marriage legislation, and mentions the Sept. 11 Commission, the intelligence official said.

A U.S. counterterrorism official told The Washington Post that the tape has been judged to be of professional quality and the speaker is considered to be college-educated and probably reared or educated in the United States, the official said.

Besides not verifying authenticity of the tape, federal investigators have been unable to match the speaker's voice to any known al-Qaida supporter or sympathizer and do not have information linking the video to a specific threat, an intelligence official said on the condition of anonymity.

The government, however, is distributing copies to the current and former officials named in the video. Besides Bush and Cheney, those include Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General John Ashcroft, FBI director Robert Mueller and former CIA director George Tenet.

The speaker, whose face is obscured by a headdress and who is identified only as "Azzam the American," says on the videotape: "No, my fellow countrymen, you are guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. You are as guilty as Bush and Cheney. You're as guilty as Rumsfeld and Ashcroft and [Colin] Powell."

The man continues: "After decades of American tyranny and oppression, now it's your turn to die. Allah willing, the streets of America will run red with blood, matching drop for drop the blood of America's victims." The man speaks in accented English, pronouncing, for example, "tyranny" as "tie-ranny."

ABC obtained the video in Pakistan Oct. 22 from a source known to have Taliban and al-Qaida connections, according to the ABC report. The network's Web site said it paid the source $500 in transportation fees.

ABC executives were frustrated that after holding the tape and working closely with federal officials to authenticate it, Fox News obtained and aired a copy about 20 minutes before it was shown on Peter Jennings' newscast last night.

Compiled from The Washington Post, The Associated Press and Reuters.

Copyright 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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