On December 13th 2011, CBS News aired a tape that showed Osama bin Laden apparently admitting responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.
The tape, which former President George Bush claimed was a “devastating declaration of guilt”, shows bin Laden with a circle of followers supposedly discussing his lead role in committing the terror attacks on September 11.
It was this tape that led to bin Laden being enemy number 1 in the years following the 9/11 attacks. However, new research by the likes of Dr Abdel El M. Husseini (scholar in Arabic culture) and others, reveals that the original translations were completely inaccurate at best, and perhaps deliberately misleading at worst.
Example 1: The Pentagon translation has bin Laden say: “We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy.”
Dr. Murad Alami, academic level translator: “‘In advance’ isn’t in there. It’s wrong, if you start from the original Arabic version. And there are no misunderstandings. So one basically can’t understand that.” Beyond that the translators agree that the sentence in the original doesn’t in any way imply advanced planning or even calcultating the number of casualties beforehand.
Example 2: The Pentagon translation has bin Laden say: “We had notification since the previous Thursday that the event would take place that day.”
Dr. Murad Alami, academic level translator: “‘Previous’ isn’t there. In the original Arabic version it’s impossible to hear the clause that the event would take place this day or that day.”
Example 3: The Pentagon translation has bin Laden say: “We asked each of them to go to America.”
Dr. Murad Alami, academic level translator’: “Using ‘we’ in the translation is incorrect. In the original Arabic version that I heard it says: ‘It was expected of them’. What comes after that, sentence or subclause, is inaudible.
Three examples out of many that puts the evidential value of the tape into doubt. That’s also the opinion of Professor Rotter from Hamburg, scholar of Islamic studies.
Professor Gernot Rotter, scholar of Islamic and Arabic Studies, Asia-Africa Institute, University of Hamburg: “Regardless of the question if bin Laden personally was actively involved in the organisation of the attacks or not: This tape is of such poor quality that many passages are unintelligible. And those that are intelligible have often been taken out of context, so that you can’t use that as evidence. The American translators who listened to the tape and transcribed it obviously added things that they wanted to hear in many places. Things that can’t be heard – never mind how often you listen to it.”