CIAO Responds to the Terrorist Attacks against the United States
A Recruiting Tape of Osama bin Laden: Excerpts and Analyses

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For several months prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, a videotape calling Muslims to a holy war against forces described as Crusaders and Jews circulated underground in the Arab world. Produced on behalf of Osama bin Laden and prominently featuring his image, words, and ideas, the tape is designed to recruit young Arab men to journey to Afghanistan and train for a war in defense of Islam.

The portions of the tape presented here, and the accompanying analyses and commentaries, reveal the worldview of the bin Laden organization and illustrate its propaganda skills. Since the tape was made at least six months before September 11, it can contain no secret messages relating to further attacks. Nor is it part of the propaganda war between the United States and Osama bin Laden that has become a matter of media controversy since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan. This tape does not target non-Arab, non-Muslim viewers. While a case may be made, therefore, that the decisions of certain news organizations to limit coverage of messages and images coming from the bin Laden camp, the various arguments supporting these decisions have little relevance to this tape. The excerpts and analyses offered here are intended solely to inform the public of the mindset and propaganda techniques of a cruel and ruthless adversary.

Following a brief, unlabeled prologue [Excerpt 1], the tape is organized in three parts: Reel I "The Situation of the Muslim Community"; Reel II "The Causes"; and Reel III "The Solution."

Reel I further divides into segments labeled by country: "The Land of the Two Holy Places," i.e., Saudi Arabia [Excerpts 2-3]; "Palestine" [Excerpts 4-6]; "Chechnya"; "Iraq" [Excerpt 7]; "Lebanon," specifically the village of "Qana"; "Indonesia"; and "Kashmir" [Excerpt 8 contains the concluding general speech at the end of this segment].

Since the copy of the tape available for analysis has a gap in Reel II, the only segment title available is "The Love of This World and the Hatred of Death" [Excerpts 9-10]. The several minutes that precede Reel III contain speeches identifying the United States as the author of the woes of the Muslim world [Excerpt 11]. The title of this segment is missing.

Reel III divides into three segments: "Hijra (Migration)" [Excerpts 12-14]; "Preparation" [Excerpts 15-19]; and "Jihad (Holy War)" [Excerpts 20-23].

The excerpts add up to approximately 42 minutes, or 42% of the entire 99-minute tape.

—Richard Bulliet and Fawaz A. Gerges, General Editors


Some images and events captured in this video tape are graphic and may be disturbing to viewers. While Columbia University believes this video to be authentic, we make no representations about the source or authenticity of the materials.


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