This is the real Osama bin Laden
OR DID HE DIE IN 2001?
by Prof David Ray Griffin
In 2009, I published a little book entitled Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? 1) I, with much evidence, showed, suggested that Osama bin Laden had died on or about December 13, 2001. (Although this book was ignored by the US press, it received major reviews in British newspapers, 2) and it even provided the basis for a BBC special. 3)
Pointing out that the only evidence to the contrary consists of “messages from bin Laden” in the form of audiotapes and videotapes that have appeared since 2001, I devoted one chapter to an examination of the most important of these tapes, showing that none are demonstrably authentic and that some are almost certainly fakes.
FAKE OBL VIDEOS
In the chapter preceding that examination, I discussed two videotapes containing purported interviews of Osama bin Laden in the fall of 2001, when the issue was whether he had been responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
I suggested that both of these tapes, in which bin Laden allegedly admitted his responsibility, were fakes. If they were, I pointed out, this fact would increase the likelihood that all of the “Osama bin Laden tapes” appearing in the following years – when the question of whether he was still alive was added to that of his responsibility for 9/11 – were also fakes.
The clearest example, I argued, was the most famous of the so-called bin Laden confession videos. Having allegedly been found in a private home in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in late November 2001, it is sometimes called the “November 9 bin Laden video,” because this date was stamped on it, implying that this was when it was made. It is also called the “bin Laden video of December 13,” because that was the date on which it was released to the public by the Pentagon – which is perhaps significant, given the evidence that bin Laden may have died on that day. (If he had, he would have obviously, and perhaps conveniently, been unable to comment on whether the tape was authentic.) In any case, I provided several reasons for concluding that this video was almost certainly fabricated.
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second it isviolently opposed,and third, it is accepted as self-evident.“[Arthur Schopenhauer, Philosopher, 1788-186]
I also suggested, with greater tentativeness, that another pre-2002 video had been fabricated. This one had been described in a November 11, 2001, article in London’s Telegraph by David Bamber entitled “Bin Laden: Yes, I Did It.” According to Bamber, the Telegraph had on the previous day “obtained access” to a video in which “Osama bin Laden has for the first time admitted that his al-Qa’eda group carried out the [9/11] attacks.” Bamber added that this video, which would “form the centrepiece of Britain and America’s new evidence against bin Laden,” was going to be released to the public on November 14. 4)
ASSUMPTION ” I DID IT”» SAYS BIN LADEN
When November 14 came, however, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that his government did not actually have the video or even a complete transcript. But his government released quotations said to be “extracts” from it – quotations that were widely regarded as confirming Bamber’s assertion that bin Laden, when asked about 9/11, had in effect replied: “I did it.”
Saying that it was “hard to know what to make of this episode,” I argued that, if both the Telegraph and “intelligence sources” had copies of such a video, then Blair’s government would surely also have a copy. And if it did have a video in which bin Laden had for the first time confessed his responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, Blair’s government – which at the time was encountering much skepticism from the Muslim world about bin Laden’s responsibility for those attacks – would surely have released it.
Or, I added, Blair’s government would have done this “unless the video was a fake and the government decided, between November 11 and 14, that the fakery was so obvious that it should deny having a copy while merely releasing damning ‘excerpts.’”5)
Then, while pointing out that “[t]his explanation is . . . merely one possibility among many,” I added two further factors supporting the “suspicion that a fake ‘bin Laden confession video’ had been made”: Blair had recently tried but failed (as the BBC pointed out) to provide convincing evidence of bin Laden’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks; and Blair was getting ready to announce emergency powers to override human rights legislation in order to imprison suspected terrorists. 6)
There was only one problem with my argument: I had somehow missed news stories revealing that the reported video was a tape of an hour-long interview of bin Laden that, after being recorded on October 21 by Al Jazeera’s Kabul correspondent, Tayseer Allouni, was not aired by Al Jazeera. 7) This fact, not being generally known at the time, was not mentioned in news reports appearing during the following month. On December 12, however, the New York Times reported that Blair had been referring to an Al Jazeera interview. 8) And then CNN, which had an affiliate agreement with Al Jazeera, aired several minutes of this interview on January 31, 2002, after which, on February 5, it posted the entire transcript online. 9)
 Whether bin Laden is dead or alive is irrelevant.
 It had long been known that the video to which Blair referred was an interview of bin Laden by Al Jazeera.
 I should have known that the bin Laden video released on December 13, 2001, was also not a fake, because Osseiran had shown, in articles known to me, that it was an authentic video made during a sting operation.
 There is no good evidence for my book’s claim that bin Laden died in 2001.
My speculation that the tape reported by Blair might have been a fake was, therefore, baseless, reflecting research that was, to say the least, inadequate.
This fact was recently pointed out in a critique of my book by Maher Osseiran entitled “Osama bin Laden, Dead or Alive? An Irrelevant Question Asked by David Ray Griffin.” 10) Osseiran’s article contained four criticisms:
Although I agree with Osseiran’s second criticism, I disagree with the other three. I will discuss his four criticisms in the above order (which is the order in which he introduced them).
CRITICISM #1: THE QUESTION OF WHETHER BIN LADEN DIED IN 2001 IS IRRELEVANT
In explaining the claim that he considered important enough to put in the title of his critique – that it is irrelevant whether bin Laden is dead or alive – Osseiran said that my book was based on an “irrational rationale,” namely:
“In the world of David Ray Griffin and his cheerleaders, if it is possible to prove that bin Laden is dead, wars would immediately come to an end.”
Osseiran did not, however, quote any statement to show that I hold any such belief – which is understandable, because I have never made any such statement. Having no idea why Osseiran attributed such an absurd belief to me, I will simply move on to his reason for calling the question of bin Laden’s continued existence irrelevant:
“[I]t is irrelevant because the war policy makers in the U.S. government can easily deal with a bin Laden death and find ways to justify their never ending war on terror.”
I agree that civilian and military leaders would seek to justify their current war policies even if they had to admit that Osama bin Laden was dead. But Osseiran’s claim – that US policy makers could “easily” deal with convincing evidence of bin Laden’s death, so that such evidence would be irrelevant – is surely wrong, for several reasons.
First, it is widely recognized that a crusade against an allegedly evil government or movement can more easily garner support insofar as that government or movement has a leader who can be portrayed as extraordinarily evil.
Since 9/11, Osama bin Laden has been thus portrayed by American leaders. For example, after skeptics had questioned the authenticity of the video released December 13, 2001, in which the bin Laden figure clearly took responsibility for the 9/11 attacks, President Bush said that those who considered this video a fake were simply hoping for the best about “an incredibly evil man.” 11)
Bush’s press secretary, Ari Fleischer, said: “Everybody knows how evil Osama bin Laden is.” 12) A Reuters article in 2002 said: “Bush constantly described the Saudi-born militant as an incarnation of evil.” 13) In an essay entitled “Constructing an Evil Genius,” Samuel Winch, a professor of communications and the humanities, wrote: “Osama bin Laden was framed in news media reports from 1999 through 2002 as an evil genius . . . very similar to the fictional villain Dr. Fu-Manchu, a Victorian horror novel character.” 14) The loss of such a figure would be far from insignificant.
In the second place, President Obama has greatly intensified the focus on bin Laden. Back in November 2008, when Barack Obama was still the president-elect, one of his advisers said of bin Laden: “This is our enemy, and he should be our principal target.” 15) Shortly after he assumed the presidency, Obama himself, having been asked how important it was to apprehend bin Laden, said:
“My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him. But if we have so tightened the noose that he’s in a cave somewhere and can’t even communicate with his operatives, then we will meet our goal of protecting America.” 16)
In June 2009, a UPI story said:
“Finding al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, believed still in hiding in Pakistan, remains a top priority for the United States, CIA Director Leon Panetta said.” 17)
Three months later, a news report based on statements from Obama’s senior counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, was entitled: “US Says Hunt Still on for Bin Laden.” 18) In December 2009, Obama’s military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, referred to bin Laden as an “iconic figure . . . whose survival emboldens al-Qaeda as a franchising organization across the world.” 19)
Because the Obama administration has said not only that the main reason we are in Afghanistan is to prevent al-Qaeda from attacking America again, but also that al-Qaeda will remain an especially dangerous threat as long as its “iconic” leader is still alive, the acknowledged death of that leader would surely undermine the administration’s public rationale for remaining in Afghanistan.
Moreover, bin Laden is relevant to the war rationale – to give a third reason why acknowledgment of his death could not be easily absorbed – not only because of his presumed survival but also because of his presumed location. The Afghan war has increasingly become the “Af-Pak” war, because of increased US military operations inside of Pakistan, and these operations have been largely justified on the basis of “intelligence” that bin Laden, along with other al-Qaeda leaders, is there. In President Obama’s March 2009 speech in which he laid out a “new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said:
“[A]l Qaeda and its extremist allies have moved across the border to the remote areas of the Pakistani frontier. This almost certainly includes al Qaeda’s leadership: Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. They have used this mountainous terrain as a safe-haven to hide, train terrorists, communicate with followers, plot attacks, and send fighters to support the insurgency in Afghanistan. For the American people, this border region has become the most dangerous place in the world.” 20)
In light of such assertions, a widespread agreement that bin Laden was no longer with us would severely undermine the Obama administration’s professed rationale for the expansion of the war into Pakistan, thereby further increasing opposition to the Af-Pak war among the press and the public.
Disclaimer:The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ‘Wonders of Pakistan’. The contents of this article too are the sole responsibility of the author(s). WoP will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this post.
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