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RESPONSE TO TERROR

Britain Unveils More 'Proof' on Bin Laden

Europe: London points to video as evidence of Saudi militant's role in U.S. attacks but provides no details on other claims. It says data are too sensitive.

November 15, 2001|MARJORIE MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LONDON — Asserting that "the noose is tightening" around Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, the British government Wednesday released what it said is further proof of his guilt in the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

The government also claimed that it now has evidence linking "a majority" of the 19 hijackers involved in the attacks to Bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network. Previously, the government had said it knew three of the men to be associated with Al Qaeda.

But no new evidence on those links was included in the 23-page government dossier that was first published last month and updated Wednesday. Britain says the intelligence is too sensitive to release.

"The intelligence material now leaves no doubt whatever of the guilt of Bin Laden and his associates," Prime Minister Tony Blair told Parliament. "They are terrorists, and history will judge them as such."

The document lists a series of statements made by Bin Laden and his spokesmen since the U.S.-led bombing campaign began in Afghanistan on Oct. 7. In particular, it quotes from an Oct. 20 videotaped interview with Bin Laden reportedly circulating among Al Qaeda backers in which he referred to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"It is what we instigated for a while, in self-defense. And it was in revenge for our people killed in Palestine and Iraq. So if avenging the killing of our people is terrorism, let history be a witness that we are terrorists," Bin Laden said, according to the document.

"[President] Bush and Blair . . . don't understand any language but the language of force. Every time they kill us, we will kill them, so the balance of terror can be achieved. The battle has been moved inside America, and we shall continue until we win this battle, or die in the cause."

In the interview, Bin Laden reportedly distinguishes between "good terror" and "bad terror."

"The bad terror is what America and Israel are practicing against our people, and what we are practicing is the good terror that will stop them doing what they are doing," he is quoted as saying.

The government doesn't have a copy of the video but has "knowledge of what's in the video," a senior official said. Details of the video and many of the same quotes from it were first reported over the weekend in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

The government acknowledged that the dossier does not add up to a prosecutable case against Bin Laden. Blair's spokesman said it is directed at the "ever-dwindling number of people around the world who believe Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were not responsible."

British officials say they don't know where Bin Laden is, but they believe that he remains in Afghanistan, where he gave an interview to a Pakistani journalist last week.

"The noose is tightening around Bin Laden," a senior official said. "The number of places he can hide is reducing. If he is there sitting in his cave, the walls must be closing in a bit."

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