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Bin Laden tape draws Net viewers

Osama bin Laden talks about the the Sept. 11 terror attacks in a video released by the U.S. government. Also: download the transcript.

2 min read
Web sites on Thursday raced to post a grainy and virtually inaudible video allegedly linking Osama bin Laden to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Read bin Laden tape trancsript MSNBC.com Webcast live the poor, amateur-quality footage, which shows bin Laden eating dinner at an undisclosed location and chatting and laughing about the terrorist attacks. The tape was found in a house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

CNN.com initially asked Net users to turn to CNN TV to watch the tape but soon added video excerpts to its news site. Shortly after it was posted, however, a surge of traffic made the video inaccessible.

The videotape, even on television, has extremely poor audio quality, but the scrolled translation makes it understandable. Although the grainy footage is passable on TV, it is extremely difficult to view in the Webcasts, and the scrolled full-screen translations are unreadable.

According to a transcript provided by the U.S. government, bin Laden is heard to say: "(...Inaudible...) we calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower.

"We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all. (...Inaudible...) due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for."

Later on in the tape, bin Laden says: "The brothers who conducted the operation, all they knew was that they have a martyrdom operation and we asked each of them to go to America. But they didn't know anything about the operation, not even one letter. But they were trained and we did not reveal the operation to them until they are there and just before they boarded the planes."

Although the Net may have proved to be less than perfect for viewing this poor quality videotape, people rushed to Web chat rooms to voice their opinions about the video. Some were shocked by his alleged confession; others remained suspicious about the tape.

"The tape is chilling and shows (bin Laden) planned the attack and had full knowledge--he chuckled when he heard the news," wrote one MSNBC.com reader.

For a few, bin Laden's apparently flagrant boasting about the Sept. 11 attacks raised red flags about how deeply involved he was.

"If that's what that tape shows, I would be suspicious of that tape," another chat room participant wrote on MSNBC.com. "The 9/11 attack came from more than a hermit that lives in a cave."