SCMP Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Bin Laden praises God for US terror attacks


Osama bin Laden, the No 1 suspect in the terror attacks for which America retaliated with a missile assault on Afghanistan last night, praised God for the September 11 strikes that toppled New York's World Trade Centre.
"America was hit by God in one of its softest spots. America is full of fear from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that," bin Laden said in a recording broadcast by al-Jazeera, the Arabic satellite station.
He said: "I swear to God that America will never dream of security or see it before we . . . see it in Palestine, and not before the infidel's armies leave the land of Muhammad, peace be upon him.
"Our Islamic nation has been tasting the same for more than 80 years," he said, adding that US President George W. Bush was the "head of the infidels".
"God has blessed a group of vanguard Muslims to destroy America and may God bless them and allot them a place in heaven."
The exiled Saudi dissident was shown dressed in fatigues and an Afghan headdress, sitting in a stone cave and flanked by two aides.
It was not clear when the video was made, but it was made during the daytime and referred to the September 11 attacks, but not to yesterday's night-time retaliation by the US and Britain.
Although he praised the attacks, he did not claim responsibility.
It was the first time bin Laden had spoken about the attacks on America, although he had issued denials of responsibility through intermediaries.
The video opened with an aide, a spokesman for bin Laden's al-Qaeda group, reading an opening statement.
"What happened in the United States is a natural reaction to the ignorant policy of the United States," the statement, read by Suleiman Abu Gheit, said.
"If it continues with this policy, the sons of Islam will not stop their struggle. The American people have to know that what is happening to them now is the result of their support of this policy," the statement said.
"The war against Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden is a war on Islam."
The Qatar-based independent TV network has frequently aired exclusive footage of bin Laden.
This prompted the United States to raise concerns about al-Jazeera's coverage during a meeting with the emir of Qatar in Washington on Wednesday.