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The Voice Of Osama?

The Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera aired excerpts Monday from a videotape in which a voice said to be Osama bin Laden's is heard naming the leaders of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers.

Though the identity of the speaker could not immediately be confirmed, his voice sounded similar to that of the Saudi-born dissident as heard in previous tapes aired by Al-Jazeera over the past year and in which he appeared. The United States says Bin Laden was the mastermind of the attacks in which some 3,000 people died.

Bin Laden, whose whereabouts are unknown, did not appear on the excerpts shown Monday. The full tape would be shown Tuesday, according to the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera. It did not say whether he would appear in the full tape.

In addition to the purported bin Laden videotape, Al-Jazeera is scheduled to air on Thursday an interview with two al Qaeda fugitives wanted in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

Yosri Fouda, correspondent for Al-Jazeera, said he was taken, blindfolded, to a secret location in Pakistan to meet Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi Bin-al-shibh in a June interview arranged by al Qaeda operatives.

Fouda said he has waited until now to air the audiotaped interview because he wanted to include it in a documentary marking the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"They wanted to make a big bang (and) choose targets that would be more of symbols, and at the same time cause as many deaths as possible," Fouda told CBS News Correspondent Richard Roth.

Fouda told CBS that he was told that the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania was supposed to hit the Capitol in Washington. According to Fouda, al Qaeda had conducted reconnaissance for months before deciding The White House would not be a target.

U.S. officials regard Mohammed as one of the highest-ranking al Qaeda leaders still at large and believe he is still planning attacks against U.S. interests. U.S. officials say Bin-al-shibh belonged to a Hamburg-based cell led by Mohammed Atta, an Egyptian suspected of leading the Sept. 11 hijackers.

"I am the head of the al Qaeda military committee and Ramzi (Bin-al-shibh) is the coordinator of the 'Holy Tuesday' operation,'' Fouda quoted Mohammed as saying. Sept. 11, 2001 fell on a Tuesday.

CBS News Correpsondent Jim Stewart reports U.S. intelligence officials have seen and heard the Al-Jazeera tapes. They believe them to be authentic, and they say they appear to contain a level of detail about the Sept. 11 attacks that has never been reported before.

For example, in the interviews the al Qaeda officials claim that planning for the attack started in "early 1999" and that hijacker ringleader Mohammed Atta was first summoned to Afghanistan for his initial instructions in the summer of 1999.

Officials also claim that:

  • Atta corresponded with al Qaeda operative Bin-al-shibh in Germany over the Internet. Writing in German, Atta pretended to be a student writing his girlfriend "Jenny."
  • Al Qaeda had codewords for the targets it selected: The World Trade Center was the "Faculty of Town Planning." The Pentagon was the "Faculty of Fine Arts" and Congress - the target that escaped - was the "Faculty of Law."
  • On his last call to Germany, Atta alerted his friend Bin-al-shibh that a date for the attack had been selected, using the code words "Two sticks, a dash and a cake with a stick down," meaning 11/9 or September 11.

  • And, of particular interest to U.S. investigators, the terrorists claim to have sent "four surveillance teams" to the United States to scout targets before Atta and the hijacker pilots arrived in the summer of 2000.

    Al-Jazeera said the tape allegedly containing the voice of bin Laden was filmed in the eastern Afghan town of Kandahar, but didn't say when the male voice attributed to bin Laden was recorded or how it obtained the tape.

    Bin Laden has not been heard from since shortly after the U.S.-led bombing campaign began in Afghanistan last October.

    "As we talk about the conquests of Washington and New York we talk about those men who changed the course of history and cleaned the records of the nation of the dirt of the treasonous rulers and their followers," the male voice says in Arabic as the tape showed head shots of the 19 hijackers.

    The 19 hijackers were "great men who deepened the roots of faith in the hearts of the faithful and reaffirmed allegiance to God and torpedoed the schemes of the crusaders and their stooges, the rulers of the region," the voice said somberly.

    Men singing Muslim hymns could be heard in the background.

    The speaker named four men — Mohammed Atta, Marwan Al-Shihhi, Hani Hajour and Ziad Jarrah — as the leaders of the Sept. 11 attacks, prayed for their souls and praised them.

    The tape showed four young men Al-Jazeera's announcer said were among the hijackers during "technical training" in Afghanistan a few months before the Sept. 11 attacks. They appeared to be looking at detailed maps, one of them of the Washington D.C. area, and manuals of cockpit gadgetry.

    At least one computer and several books in English could be seen sitting on desks and a hand was shown pointing at the site of the Pentagon on one map. The men wore typical south Asian clothes — loose shirts and baggy plants.

    The excerpts shown Monday also included the videotaped of a man identified as Abdul Aziz Al Omari, one of the hijackers.

    "My work is a message to all those who heard me and to all those who saw me but at the same time it is a message to the infidels that you should leave the Arabian Peninsula defeated and stop giving a hand of help to the coward Jews in Palestine," the bearded young man read from a paper he held.

    "God may reward all those who trained me on this path and was behind this noble act and a special mention should be made of the Mujahid (Muslim holy warrior) leader Sheik Osama bin Laden, may God protect him"

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