Bin Laden Is Said to Talk of Moussaoui

Published: May 24, 2006

WASHINGTON, May 23 — In a new videotape posted on the Internet on Tuesday, Osama bin Laden reasserted his role as the planner of the Sept. 11 attacks and declared that Zacarias Moussaoui had played no role in the 2001 plot.

Mr. Moussaoui was sentenced May 4 to life in federal prison for failing to warn American authorities of the attacks. He had told jurors that he had conspired with Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, to fly a plane into the White House on the day of the hijackings, but American intelligence officials have said there was no evidence to support that claim.

Though a technical review of the tape was incomplete on Tuesday night, an American counterterrorism official said that the speaker appeared to be Mr. bin Laden. The tape includes English subtitles and a still photograph of the Qaeda leader in front of a plain white wall.

During the four-and-a-half-minute tape, the voice believed to be that of Mr. bin Laden addresses "the American people," saying Mr. Moussaoui had "no connection whatsoever" with Sept. 11.

According to a translation by the SITE Institute, a private organization in Washington that tracks terrorism on the Internet, Mr. bin Laden adds, "I am certain of what I say, because I was responsible for entrusting the 19 brothers, Allah have mercy upon them, with those raids." He says that the hijackers were divided into "pilots and support teams" but that Mr. Moussaoui was "only learning to fly."

Mr. bin Laden also lists others who he says had no role in the Sept. 11 attacks, including prisoners held by the United States in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and several individuals he describes as working for relief agencies and the news media.

The counterterrorism official, who was granted anonymity because his agency does not allow him to speak on the record, called the tape "propaganda" possibly intended to demonstrate that Mr. bin Laden, who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan or Afghanistan, "is still relevant and in touch with current events."