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A Tale of Two Osamas

There are some interesting differences between the CNN & Aljazeera translations of the Osama bin Laden speech...

Omissions are in bold.

Aljazeera CNN
Transcript of bin Ladin's speech

Saturday 30 October 2004, 16:53 Makka Time, 13:53 GMT

Following is the English transcript of Usama bin Ladin's speech in a videotape aired by Aljazeera on Friday 29 October. In the interests of authenticity the transcript, which appeared as subtitles at the foot of the screen, has been left unedited.

Bin Laden: 'Your security is in your own hands'

Friday, October 29, 2004 Posted: 10:05 PM EDT (0205 GMT)

(CNN) -- Osama bin Laden delivered a new videotaped message which aired on the Arab language network Al-Jazeera Friday. This is a transcript of his remarks as translated by CNN senior editor for Arab affairs Octavia Nasr.

To begin: Peace be upon he who follow the Guidance.

People of United States, this talk of mine is for you and concerns the ideal way to prevent another Manhattan and deals with the war and its causes and results.

Before I begin, I say to you that security is an indispensable pillar in human life and that free men do not forfeit their security contrary to Bush's claims that we hate freedom.

If so, then let him explain why did not strike - for example - Sweden.

And we know that freedom haters do not possess defiant spirits like those of the 19 may Allah have mercy on them.

You, the American people, I talk to you today about the best way to avoid another catastrophe and about war, its reasons and its consequences.

And in that regard, I say to you that security is an important pillar of human life, and that free people do not compromise their security.

Contrary to what [President George W.] Bush says and claims -- that we hate freedom --let him tell us then, "Why did we not attack Sweden?" It is known that those who hate freedom don't have souls with integrity, like the souls of those 19. May the mercy of God be upon them.

No, we fight because we are free men who do not sleep under oppression.

We want to restore freedom to our Nation and just as you lay waste to our Nation so shall we lay waste to yours.

But I am amazed at you. Even though we are in the fourth year after the events of September 11, Bush is still engaged in distortion, deception and hiding from you the real cause and thus the reasons are still there for a repeat of what occurred.

So I shall talk to you about the story behind those events and I shall tell you truthfully about the moments in which the decision was taken for you to consider.

I say to you Allah knows that it had never occurred to us to strike towers.

We fought with you because we are free, and we don't put up with transgressions. We want to reclaim our nation. As you spoil our security, we will do so to you.

I wonder about you. Although we are ushering the fourth year after 9/11, Bush is still exercising confusion and misleading you and not telling you the true reason. Therefore, the motivations are still there for what happened to be repeated.

And I will talk to you about the reason for those events, and I will be honest with you about the moments the decision was made so that you can ponder. And I tell you, God only knows, that we never had the intentions to destroy the towers.

But after it became unbearable and we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the America/Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it came to my mind.

The events that affected my soul in a difficult way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American 6th fleet helped them in that.

And the whole world saw and heard but did not respond.

In those difficult moments many hard to describe ideas bubbled in my soul but in the end they produced intense feelings of rejection of tyranny and gave birth to a strong resolve to punish the oppressors.

And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressors in kind and that we destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children.

But after the injustice was so much and we saw transgressions and the coalition between Americans and the Israelis against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, it occurred to my mind that we deal with the towers. And these special events that directly and personally affected me go back to 1982 and what happened when America gave permission for Israel to invade Lebanon. And assistance was given by the American sixth fleet.

During those crucial moments, my mind was thinking about many things that are hard to describe. But they produced a feeling to refuse and reject injustice, and I had determination to punish the transgressors.

And as I was looking at those towers that were destroyed in Lebanon, it occurred to me that we have to punish the transgressor with the same -- and that we had to destroy the towers in America so that they taste what we tasted, and they stop killing our women and children.

We have not found it difficult to deal with the Bush administration in light of the resemblance it bears to the regimes in our countries, half of which are ruled by the military and the other half of which are ruled by the sons of kings and presidents.

Our experience with them is lengthy and both types are replete with those who are characterised by pride, arrogance, greed and misappropriation of wealth.

We found no difficulties in dealing with the Bush administration, because of the similarities of that administration and the regimes in our countries, half of which are run by the military and half of which are run by monarchs. And our experience is vast with them.

And those two kinds are full of arrogance and taking money illegally.

This resemblance began after the visits of Bush Senior to the region at a time when some of our compatriots were dazzled by America and hoping that these visits would have an effect on our countries. All of a sudden he was affected by these monarchies and military regimes and became jealous of their remaining decades in their position to embezzle the public wealth of the Nation without supervision or accounting.

So he took dictatorship and suppression of freedoms to his son and they named it the Patriot Act under the pretences of fighting terrorism.

In addition, Bush sanctioned the installing of sons as state governors and did not forget to import expertise in election fraud from the regions presidents to Florida to be made use of in moments of difficulty.

All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration.

The resemblance started when [former President George H.W.] Bush, the father, visited the area, when some of our own were impressed by America and were hoping that the visits would affect and influence our countries.

Then, what happened was that he was impressed by the monarchies and the military regimes, and he was jealous of them staying in power for tens of years, embezzling the public money without any accountability. And he moved the tyranny and suppression of freedom to his own country, and they called it the Patriot Act, under the disguise of fighting terrorism. And Bush, the father, found it good to install his children as governors and leaders.

And for the record, we had agreed with the Commander-General Muhammad Ataa, Allah have mercy on him, that all the operations should be carried out within 20 minutes before Bush and his administration notice.

It never occurred to us that the Commander in Chief of the armed forces would abandon 50,000 of his citizens in the twin towers to face those great horrors alone at a time when they most needed him.

But because it seemed to him that occupying himself by talking to the little girl about the goat and its butting was more important than occupying himself with the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers we were given three times the period required to execute the operations. All praise is due to Allah.

We agreed with the leader of the group, Mohammed Atta, to perform all attacks within 20 minutes before [President George W.] Bush and his administration were aware of what was going on. And we never knew that the commander-in-chief of the American armed forces would leave 50,000 of his people in the two towers to face those events by themselves when they were in the most urgent need of their leader.

He was more interested in listening to the child's story about the goat rather than worry about what was happening to the towers. So, we had three times the time necessary to accomplish the events.

Your security is not in the hands of [Democratic presidential nominee John] Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked.

It should also be noted that the entire tape was 18 minutes long, and what we're getting is only a brief (6 minutes or so) extract. The last section that CNN has and Al Jazeera doesn't is just a difference in where to stop transcribing.

The tape does have subtitles, so it's clearly intended for an American popular audience, and the Al Jazeera version is likely based on the subtitles, as they claim.

Osama Tape: Mystery of the missing minutes

By most accounts, Osama bin Laden's election-eve videotape bombshell is 18 minutes long. But TV networks, including Qatar-based Al Jazeera, have broadcast only a few minutes of it and released only excerpts from it. Why not the full tape and transcript?

The answer might lie in the multiple swipes bin Laden takes against the United States, the Bush family, their dubious – in his eyes – commitment to freedom and their corruption. Even in the portions released, the Al Qaeda fugitive ridicules the Florida fiasco and rails about the depredations of American corporations.

He accuses Bush of negligence on 9/11, questions his legitimacy and the family legacy, and accuses them of being in cahoots with corrupt Muslim rulers to plunder Arab oil wealth. He also mentions the Patriot Act and Halliburton, showing he's on top of issues.


On the tape, bin Laden also says his terror organization has been hurt by the U.S. military's unrelenting manhunt for him and his cohorts on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

A portion of the left-out footage includes a tirade aimed at President Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, claiming the war in Iraq is purely over oil.

Al-Jazeera defends airing bin Laden tape

Al-Jazeera television, facing fresh US criticism for airing a new message by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, defended its decision to show the tape, saying it was news any media would have jumped on.

"We don't believe anyone can argue about the newsworthiness of this latest Osama bin Laden recording. Any news organisation would have aired the tape if they had received it," al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout said.

A US State Department official said Washington had asked Qatar's government to prevent the Arabic broadcaster airing the tape, but al-Jazeera refused.

Government officials in US ally Qatar, which hosts the leading Arabic satellite channel, were not immediately available to comment. Al-Jazeera says it received the tape on Friday.

In Washington, a US official said there is text at the start of the tape attributing the production of the tape to al-Shahab media production and that text has a date of 10 Ramadan, which was last Sunday. The tape also has English subtitles, the official said on condition of anonymity.

US officials accuse the channel, which is popular among millions of Arab viewers, of being inaccurate and biased in its reporting of US policies towards Arabs and Muslims.

An abbreviated version of this article has been posted to, and there is some interesting discussion there. A Tale of Two Osamas has Information Gap: Various English of Osama bin Laden Message

Update, November 1: The Al Jazeera version has been updated and is now a Full transcript of bin Ladin's speech.

page first created on Sunday, October 31, 2004

© Mark Wieczorek