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Arab Analysts React to Osama bin Laden Video


Some analysts in the Middle East say a videotaped statement from Osama bin Laden broadcast Friday marks the first time the al-Qaida leader has taken direct responsibility for the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Ursula Lindsey in Cairo spoke to some analysts there, and has this report.

Mohamed Abdel Moneim Saiid, the head of the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, says Osama bin Laden has taken full responsibility for the September 11th attacks for the first time. Some in the Arab world have theorized that the attacks were carried out by Israel's secret service or by the CIA.

"Here, he is talking about: 'we planned it, we made it, for so and so and so.' And that is a very big, I would say, confession," he said. :And that will be a big blow to many of the conspiracy theorists in the Arab world."

Mr. Saiid says the terrorist leader's main message to the American people is that the conflict between al-Qaida and America is based on U.S. policies in the region.

"[He says] His animosity toward the United States is coming from its policies, which, in my opinion, is a new departure of his previous discourse, in which he emphasized kind of an eternal struggle between Muslims and non-Muslims," he said. "This time, he is talking about policies."

Osama bin Laden speaks in his statement of what he calls "the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people, in Palestine and Lebanon."

Mr. Saiid says that, although there are no overt threats in the message, it contains an implied ultimatum.

Expert on Islamic affairs and columnist for the the al-Ahram newspaper Fahmy Howeidi says Osama bin Laden's statement has two main goals.

"He is hoping for two things," he said. "Number One, he wanted to tell the people that he is still there. He is still challenging [President] Bush and all his allies in the area. Number Two he is trying to convince people that, if they do not vote for [Mr.] Bush they will be more safe, more secure."

The statement was delivered four days before the U.S. presidential election. Both President Bush and Senator John Kerry, his challenger in Tuesday's election, say they are fully committed to tracking down and capturing Osama bin Laden. They both vowed to defeat terrorism.

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