Audrey Gillan in Washington
Monday October 8, 2001
He was sitting outside the mouth of a cave hewn into the mountainside, his head swathed in a flowing turban, his body clothed in fatigues, his beard predominantly grey. Beside him, a carefully placed AK47 was on prominent display.
A film of Osama bin Laden, broadcast after yesterday's strikes on Afghanistan, had been recorded in daylight sometime before the attacks by US and British forces and was clearly aimed at striking fear in the West.
It was the first time the world has heard from the leader of the al-Qaida network since the September 11 attacks. Bin Laden said these attacks were "giving them back what they deserve" and warned American citizens that they will never feel safe again. He does not, however, claim responsibility for them.
Clutching a microphone and belligerently pointing his finger at what is clearly a very professional camera, he said: "America was hit by God in one of its softest spots. America is full of fear from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that." He added that America was tasting now "what we have tasted for decades."
On the film, secured by Al-Jazeera, the Arabic satellite TV station, Bin Laden repeated many of the themes that have been central to his militant philosophy and have fuelled his hatred of the West.
Israeli military incursions into Palestinian-run areas in the West Bank and the bombing of Iraq remain at the core of his hatred. He complains that no-one had objected to bombs on Iraq or Israeli tanks going to Jenin, Ramallah and Beit Jallah and "other lands of Islam" and now the "swords come after eight years to America".
Knowing that his video would be seen across the globe, he warned that "these events have split the whole world into two camps - the camps of belief and the camps of disbelief ... Every Muslim should support his religion".
Bin Laden warned that the "wind of change has blown up to the Arabian peninsula".
He said: "I say ... by God the great, America will never dream... Those who live in America will never taste security and safety unless we feel security and safety in our lands and in Palestine."
Before speaking, Bin Laden allowed his spokesman Suleiman Abu Gheit to read a statement. Bin Laden was flanked on his left by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, who is Bin Laden's deputy.
As he finished his chilling message, the camera panned out to show all three men seated together, calmly sipping glasses of tea.