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Osama tape verified scientifically, says envoy

Published Dec 15, 2001 12:00am

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ISLAMABAD, Dec 14: The United States has scientifically verified the videotape recovered from Jalalabad showing Osama bin Laden in glory after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks, Ambassador Kenton Keith of the US-led coalition said on Friday.

“The US government has taken extraordinary steps to try and verify the authenticity of the tape,” the spokesman said at the regular briefing.

“The release of the tape took some time because we wanted to be absolutely sure about the correct translation,” he said, adding that independent translators had been employed to translate Osama’s hour-long conversation with his companions. The quality, he said, was very poor which made the job of translators a bit difficult.

The spokesman said that the voice and images of Osama in the tape were compared with his earlier video and audio recordings to establish its authenticity.

In reply to questions about who had made the tape, and how and from where had it been recovered, Mr Keith said they did not know who had made the tape, adding it was “acquired at a house in Jalalabad in late November”.

The question whether the videotape was a valid evidence in the US judicial system was avoided by the spokesman. “I am not in a position to discuss the legal details,” he added.

The spokesman said that the US authorities had shared the videotape with many Muslim and Arab countries and their views had been sought on it.

In reply to a question whether the US-coalition enjoyed Arab countries support, he said the absence of Arab world troops in coalition forces did not mean that they had no support from them. There support was quite encouraging, he added.

He pointed out that many countries in the Middle East had already imposed restrictions on the funds channelled to Al Qaeda.

He refuted reports that Osama had escaped Tora Bora, saying that to the best of their knowledge Osama was still in the same area.

He said there was no evidence that significant groups of Al Qaeda members had been able to escape through mountainous passes into Pakistan.

Pakistan, he said, had taken effective measures. “The situation could have been worrying if the government of Pakistan had not taken these measures,” he added.

In reply to a question what would be the fate of 120 Pakistani prisoners who were reportedly handed over to local authorities on Friday morning, he said the question should be put to the Pakistani government.

Asked whether joint investigation teams of the US and Pakistani agencies had been constituted to interrogate these prisoners, he said, “all I can say is that we have been cooperating with the Pakistan government throughout this process and we hope to continue to do that.”

Expounding on the root causes of terrorism, the spokesman said there was a realization that economic disparities, poverty, lack of education and lack of health facilities had created a general despair among people and had subsequently led them to terrorism.

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