Videos of Osama bin Laden

From Academic Kids

There are generally three kinds of videos of Osama bin Laden: Those videotapes in which he addresses the camera and the world audience directly and reads from a prepared statement; those in which he is present but not the central figure, appearing alongside other speakers or appearing incidentally; and those in which he is being interviewed by journalists, such as ABC News' John Miller. Bin Laden and allies have also appeared on audiotapes.


About the tapes

There have been several videos released of Osama bin Laden. Most of these were released by Al-Qaida to Arabic media organisations, such as Al-Jazeera, as prepared propaganda tapes. There has been debate in some countries about the propaganda value of these tapes. There are concerns about incitement as well as the alleged possibility of hidden messages to terrorist cells in other countries . As a result, some countries broadcast the tapes in full, but others have not.

Propaganda or hidden messages?

The United States government asked American news media not to air tapes that might serve bin Laden's propaganda purposes. The Pentagon, however, did release and urge the broadcast of one tape (with Pentagon translation) that supports claims concerning bin Laden's involvement in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Tapes released by the U.S. government

December 13, 2001

The United States State Department released, in a move criticized by some Arab groups, some video tapes of Osama bin Laden on December 13th 2001. The State Department claims that the tapes are authentic and were found in Afghanistan. The tapes show bin Laden and implicate him in the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack. In the tape Osama bin Laden displays in-depth knowledge of the attack, although only knowing the timing of the actual attack a few days in advance.

The United States had drawn controversy by releasing the tapes; some critics have alleged that this tape was released only because it is supportive of their claims that bin Laden was involved in the attacks. Others claim that it is a doctored video, although no one has offered any physical proof of this. There is an argument that the film is a dramatization. This argument is based on a comparison of the face Osama bin Laden to the face of the man represented as him in the video. It is claimed that the nose of the real OBL is longer than the nose of the man in the video as it appears in some frames. Also it has been commented that the man in the video seems somewhat portly compared to previously seen images of OBL.

The events regarding the acquisition of the tape are not clear, but apparently it was obtained through some means from a guest house in Kandahar, and was supposedly filmed November 9th, or thereabout.

After the tape was released, United States Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "How could there be a doubt in anyone's mind any longer about what we have said from the very, very beginning, that he was the mastermind, he is the head of an organization that participates in this kind of evil activity?" President George W. Bush said it proved bin Laden "has no conscience and no soul".

The U.S. government and many people worldwide were anxiously awaiting the response to the tape's release in the Arab world. The U.S. had hoped it would finally prove bin Laden's guilt beyond dispute.

Ali Abunimah, vice president of the Arab-American Action Network, said that "[t]he tape should dispel any remaining doubt that bin Laden is an evil villain and responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Most serious people didn't need this tape to be convinced. The tapes that had already been released [by bin Laden] made it clear since he all but took responsibility for the attacks." Viewers of Al-Jazeera seemed unconvinced, at least one saying that bin Laden could have just been bragging to impress his host.

Tape released by Al Jazeera

Many of the Osama bin Laden tapes have been released to directly (by mail or messenger) to Arabic language satellite television networks like Al Jazeera or Al Araabiya.

Missing image
Still frame from the Osama Bin Laden video tape released 29 October, 2004

October 29, 2004

Main article: 2004 bin Laden video

On 29 October 2004, Arab television network Al Jazeera broadcast a video tape, 18 minutes in length, of Osama bin Laden, addressing citizens of the United States, in which he claimed responsibility for the September 11, 2001 attacks. The release of the tape was reportedly timed to come just four days before the 2004 U.S. presidential election. [1] (

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