Islamabad/Spin Boldak (Afghanistan), Nov. 14 (Reuters): A journalist who has met Osama bin Laden several times said today an audio tape passed to him this week praising recent attacks and warning the United States and its allies of death was definitely made by the Muslim militant.
Officials of Afghanistan’s former Taliban regime which sheltered bin Laden said they too were sure the man blamed for the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States was alive and directing attacks on US-led forces hunting him in the country.
Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan, bureau chief in Pakistan with the al Jazeera independent Arab television channel that broadcast the audio tape on Tuesday, said it was delivered to him by an unidentified man in the Pakistani capital two days ago.
“I am sure. I am 100 per cent sure it is bin Laden. It is definitely him,” Zaidan told Reuters.
US officials said they believed the recording aired on the Qatar-based television channel was probably that of the Saudi-born bin Laden, prime suspect in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon.
US President George W. Bush said the tape needed to be taken seriously. “Whoever put this tape out has put the world on notice yet again that we’re at war,” he said. “We’ll chase these people down one at a time. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, we’ll find them and bring them to justice.”
On the tape, the speaker praised recent attacks including the October 12 bomb blasts on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali, and accused the United States and its allies of harming Muslims, adding the warning: “As you kill, you will be killed.”
Zaidan, a Syrian who recently published a book based on several interviews with bin Laden, said he could not identify the man who delivered the tape to him in Islamabad on Tuesday.
“He called me and said he wanted to see me... I rushed to the place and he gave it to me. He was half-masked. He told me it was from bin Laden,” Zaidan said.
He said the man declined to take any questions.
Zaidan declined to say where he had met the courier but said he believed he was the same person who had given him another tape from bin Laden about two months ago.