Washington, Nov. 18 (Reuters): A US intelligence analysis of an audio recording broadcast last week found it was “almost certainly” the voice of al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and the tape was genuine, US officials said today.
The audiotape broadcast on the Qatar-based al Jazeera television channel praised attacks that took place in October, showing that the speaker must have been alive as recently as late last month.
“It’s almost certainly the voice of Osama bin Laden, it cannot be stated with 100 per cent certainty, but we assess that it is genuine,” one official said about the conclusion of the intelligence review of the broadcast.
The CIA and National Security Agency have been analysing the broadcast of the tape, which was of shaky quality because it apparently was recorded over the telephone.
“It is clear that the tape was recorded in the last several weeks,” another U.S. official said. “At this point there is no evidence to indicate and no reason to believe that the tape was manufactured or altered.”
This was the hardest evidence that the United States has had since December 2001 that bin Laden was alive.
US forces have been hunting for him, mainly along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and the United States has offered a $25 million reward for information leading to his location.
The United States has vowed to destroy the al Qaida network, which it says was behind the September 11, 2001 attacks on America that killed about 3,000 people. The audiotape is among factors that have raised concerns among US authorities that the al Qaida may be planning another strike.