December 13, 2001
TRANSCRIPT OF USAMA BIN LADEN VIDEO TAPE
(Transcript and annotations independently prepared by George Michael,
translator, Diplomatic Language Services; and Dr. Kassem M. Wahba, Arabic language
program coordinator, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins
University. They collaborated on their translation and compared it with translations done
by the U.S. government for consistency. There were no inconsistencies in the
In mid-November, Usama Bin Laden spoke to a room of supporters, possibly in
Qandahar, Afghanistan. These comments were video taped with the knowledge of Bin
Laden and all present.
Note: The tape is approximately one hour long and contains three different
segments: an original taping of a visit by some people to the site of the downed U.S.
helicopter in Ghazni province (approximately 12 minutes long); and two segments
documenting a courtesy visit by Bin Laden and his lieutenants to an unidentified Shaykh,
who appears crippled from the waist down. The visit apparently takes place at a
guesthouse in Qandahar. The sequence of the events is reversed on the tape— the end of
his visit is in the beginning of the tape with the helicopter site visit in the middle and the
start of the Usama bin Laden visit beginning approximately 39 minutes into the tape. The
tape is transcribed below according to the proper sequence of events.
Due to the quality of the original tape, it is NOT a verbatim transcript of every
word spoken during the meeting, but does convey the messages and information flow.
EDITOR'S NOTE: 39 minutes into tape, first segment of the bin Laden meeting, begins
after footage of helicopter site visit
Shaykh: (...inaudible...) You have given us weapons, you have given us hope and we
thank Allah for you. We don't want to take much of your time, but this is the
arrangement of the brothers. People now are supporting us more, even those ones who
did not support us in the past, support us more now. I did not want to take that much of
your time. We praise Allah, we praise Allah. We came from Kabul. We were very
pleased to visit. May Allah bless you both at home and the camp. We asked the driver to
take us, it was a night with a full moon, thanks be to Allah. Believe me it is not in the
country side. The elderly...everybody praises what you did, the great action you did,
which was first and foremost by the grace of Allah. This is the guidance of Allah and the
blessed fruit of jihad.
UBL: Thanks to Allah. What is the stand of the Mosques there (in Saudi Arabia)?
Shaykh: Honestly, they are very positive. Shaykh Al-Bahrani (phonetic) gave a good
sermon in his class after the sunset prayers. It was videotaped and I was supposed to
carry it with me, but unfortunately, I had to leave immediately.
UBL: The day of the events?
Shaykh: At the exact time of the attack on America, precisely at the time. He (Bahrani)
gave a very impressive sermon. Thanks be to Allah for his blessings. He (Bahrani) was
the first one to write at war time. I visited him twice in Al-Qasim.
UBL: Thanks be to Allah.
Shaykh: This is what I asked from Allah. He (Bahrani) told the youth: "You are asking
for martyrdom and wonder where you should go (for martyrdom)?" Allah was inciting
them to go. I asked Allah to grant me to witness the truth in front of the unjust ruler. We
ask Allah to protect him and give him the martyrdom, after he issued the first fatwa. He
was detained for interrogation, as you know. When he was called in and asked to sign, he
told them, "don't waste my time, I have another fatwa. If you want me, I can sign both at
the same time."
UBL: Thanks be to Allah.
Shaykh: His position is really very encouraging. When I paid him the first visit about a
year and half ago, he asked me, "How is Shaykh Bin-Ladin?" He sends you his special
regards. As far as Shaykh Sulayman 'Ulwan is concerned, he gave a beautiful fatwa,
may Allah bless him. Miraculously, I heard it on the Quran radio station. It was strange
because he ('Ulwan) sacrificed his position, which is equivalent to a director. It was
transcribed word-by-word. The brothers listened to it in detail. I briefly heard it before
the noon prayers. He ('Ulwan) said this was jihad and those people were not innocent
people (World Trade Center and Pentagon victims). He swore to Allah. This was
transmitted to Shaykh Sulayman Al ('Umar) Allah bless him.
UBL: What about Shaykh Al-(Rayan)?
Shaykh: Honestly, I did not meet with him. My movements were truly limited.
UBL: Allah bless you. You are welcome.
Shaykh: (Describing the trip to the meeting) They smuggled us and then I thought that
we would be in different caves inside the mountains so I was surprised at the guest house
and that it is very clean and comfortable. Thanks be to Allah, we also learned that this
location is safe, by Allah's blessings. The place is clean and we are very comfortable.
UBL: (...Inaudible...) when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they
will like the strong horse. This is only one goal; those who want people to worship the
lord of the people, without following that doctrine, will be following the doctrine of
Muhammad, peace be upon him.
(UBL quotes several short and incomplete Hadith verses, as follows):
"I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet
"Some people may ask: why do you want to fight us?"
"There is an association between those who say: I believe in one god and Muhammad is
his prophet, and those who don't (...inaudible...)
"Those who do not follow the true fiqh. The fiqh of Muhammad, the real fiqh. They are
just accepting what is being said at face value."
UBL: Those youth who conducted the operations did not accept any fiqh in the popular
terms, but they accepted the fiqh that the prophet Muhammad brought. Those young men
(...inaudible...) said in deeds, in New York and Washington, speeches that overshadowed
all other speeches made everywhere else in the world. The speeches are understood by
both Arabs and non-Arabs–even by Chinese. It is above all the media said. Some of
them said that in Holland, at one of the centers, the number of people who accepted Islam
during the days that followed the operations were more than the people who accepted
Islam in the last eleven years. I heard someone on Islamic radio who owns a school in
America say: "We don't have time to keep up with the demands of those who are asking
about Islamic books to learn about Islam." This event made people think (about true
Islam) which benefited Islam greatly.
Shaykh: Hundreds of people used to doubt you and few only would follow you until this
huge event happened. Now hundreds of people are coming out to join you. I remember a
vision by Shaykh Salih Al-(Shuaybi). He said: "There will be a great hit and people
will go out by hundreds to Afghanistan." I asked him (Salih): "To Afghanistan?" He
replied, "Yes." According to him, the only ones who stay behind will be the mentally
impotent and the liars (hypocrites). I remembered his saying that hundreds of people will
go out to Afghanistan. He had this vision a year ago. This event discriminated between
the different types of followers.
UBL: (...Inaudible...) we calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy,
who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that
would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all.
(...Inaudible...) due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas
in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the
plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for.
Shaykh: Allah be praised.
UBL: We were at (...inaudible...) when the event took place. We had notification since
the previous Thursday that the event would take place that day. We had finished our
work that day and had the radio on. It was 5:30 p.m. our time. I was sitting with Dr.
Ahmad Abu-al-(Khair). Immediately, we heard the news that a plane had hit the World
Trade Center. We turned the radio station to the news from Washington. The news
continued and no mention of the attack until the end. At the end of the newscast, they reported that a plane just hit the World Trade Center.
Shaykh: Allah be praised.
UBL: After a little while, they announced that another plane had hit the World Trade
Center. The brothers who heard the news were overjoyed by it.
Shaykh: I listened to the news and I was sitting. We didn't...we were not thinking about
anything, and all of a sudden, Allah willing, we were talking about how come we didn't
have anything, and all of a sudden the news came and everyone was overjoyed and
everyone until the next day, in the morning, was talking about what was happening and
we stayed until four o'clock, listening to the news every time a little bit different,
everyone was very joyous and saying "Allah is great," "Allah is great," "We are thankful
to Allah," "Praise Allah." And I was happy for the happiness of my brothers. That day
the congratulations were coming on the phone non-stop. The mother was receiving
phone calls continuously. Thank Allah. Allah is great, praise be to Allah.
(Quoting the verse from the Quran)
Shaykh: "Fight them, Allah will torture them, with your hands, he will torture them. He
will deceive them and he will give you victory. Allah will forgive the believers, he is
knowledgeable about everything."
Shaykh: No doubt it is a clear victory. Allah has bestowed on us...honor on us...and he
will give us blessing and more victory during this holy month of Ramadan. And this is
what everyone is hoping for. Thank Allah America came out of its caves. We hit her the
first hit and the next one will hit her with the hands of the believers, the good believers,
the strong believers. By Allah it is a great work. Allah prepares for you a great reward
for this work. I'm sorry to speak in your presence, but it is just thoughts, just thoughts.
By Allah, who there is no god but him. I live in happiness, happiness...I have not
experienced, or felt, in a long time. I remember, the words of Al-Rabbani, he said they
made a coalition against us in the winter with the infidels like the Turks, and others, and
some other Arabs. And they surrounded us like the days...in the days of the prophet
Muhammad. Exactly like what's happening right now. But he comforted his followers
and said, "This is going to turn and hit them back." And it is a mercy for us. And a
blessing to us. And it will bring people back. Look how wise he was. And Allah will
give him blessing. And the day will come when the symbols of Islam will rise up and it
will be similar to the early days of Al-Mujahedeen and Al-Ansar (similar to the early
years of Islam). And victory to those who follow Allah. Finally said, if it is the same,
like the old days, such as Abu Bakr and Othman and Ali and others. In these days, in our
times, that it will be the greatest jihad in the history of Islam and the resistance of the
Shaykh: By Allah my Shaykh. We congratulate you for the great work. Thank Allah.
Tape ends here
Second segment of Bin Laden's visit, shows up at the front of the tape
UBL: Abdallah Azzam, Allah bless his soul, told me not to record anything
(...inaudible...) so I thought that was a good omen, and Allah will bless us (...inaudible...).
Abu-Al-Hasan Al-(Masri), who appeared on Al-Jazeera TV a couple of days ago and
addressed the Americans saying: "If you are true men, come down here and face us."
(...inaudible...) He told me a year ago: "I saw in a dream, we were playing a soccer game
against the Americans. When our team showed up in the field, they were all pilots!" He
said: "So I wondered if that was a soccer game or a pilot game? Our players were pilots."
He (Abu-Al-Hasan) didn't know anything about the operation until he heard it on the
radio. He said the game went on and we defeated them. That was a good omen for us.
Shaykh: May Allah be blessed.
Unidentified Man Off Camera: Abd Al Rahman Al-(Ghamri) said he saw a vision, before
the operation, a plane crashed into a tall building. He knew nothing about it.
Shaykh: May Allah be blessed!
Sulayman (Abu Guaith): I was sitting with the Shaykh in a room, then I left to go to
another room where there was a TV set. The TV broadcasted the big event. The scene
was showing an Egyptian family sitting in their living room, they exploded with joy. Do
you know when there is a soccer game and your team wins, it was the same expression of
joy. There was a subtitle that read: "In revenge for the children of Al Aqsa', Usama Bin
Ladin executes an operation against America." So I went back to the Shaykh (meaning
UBL) who was sitting in a room with 50 to 60 people. I tried to tell him about what I
saw, but he made gesture with his hands, meaning: "I know, I know…"
UBL: He did not know about the operation. Not everybody knew (...inaudible...).
Muhammad (Atta) from the Egyptian family (meaning the Al Qa'ida Egyptian group),
was in charge of the group.
Shaykh: A plane crashing into a tall building was out of anyone's imagination. This was
a great job. He was one of the pious men in the organization. He became a martyr.
Allah bless his soul.
Shaykh (Referring to dreams and visions): The plane that he saw crashing into the
building was seen before by more than one person. One of the good religious people has
left everything and come here. He told me, "I saw a vision, I was in a huge plane, long
and wide. I was carrying it on my shoulders and I walked from the road to the desert for
half a kilometer. I was dragging the plane." I listened to him and I prayed to Allah to
help him. Another person told me that last year he saw, but I didn't understand and I told
him I don't understand. He said, "I saw people who left for jihad...and they found
themselves in New York...in Washington and New York." I said, "What is this?" He told
me the plane hit the building. That was last year. We haven't thought much about it.
But, when the incidents happened he came to me and said, "Did you see...this is strange."
I have another man...my god...he said and swore by Allah that his wife had seen the
incident a week earlier. She saw the plane crashing into a building...that was
unbelievable, my god.
UBL: The brothers, who conducted the operation, all they knew was that they have a
martyrdom operation and we asked each of them to go to America but they didn't know
anything about the operation, not even one letter. But they were trained and we did not
reveal the operation to them until they are there and just before they boarded the planes.
UBL: (...inaudible...) then he said: Those who were trained to fly didn't know the others.
One group of people did not know the other group. (...inaudible...)
(Someone in the crowd asks UBL to tell the Shaykh about the dream of (Abu-Da'ud).
UBL: We were at a camp of one of the brother's guards in Qandahar. This brother
belonged to the majority of the group. He came close and told me that he saw, in a
dream, a tall building in America, and in the same dream he saw Mukhtar teaching them
how to play karate. At that point, I was worried that maybe the secret would be revealed
if everyone starts seeing it in their dream. So I closed the subject. I told him if he sees
another dream, not to tell anybody, because people will be upset with him.
(Another person's voice can be heard recounting his dream about two planes hitting a
UBL: They were overjoyed when the first plane hit the building, so I said to them: be
UBL: The difference between the first and the second plane hitting the towers was twenty
minutes. And the difference between the first plane and the plane that hit the Pentagon
was one hour.
Shaykh: They (the Americans) were terrified thinking there was a coup.
[Note: Ayman Al-Zawahri says first he commended UBL's awareness of what the media
is saying. Then he says it was the first time for them (Americans) to feel danger coming
UBL (reciting a poem):
I witness that against the sharp blade
They always faced difficulties and stood together...
When the darkness comes upon us and we are bit by a
Sharp tooth, I say...
"Our homes are flooded with blood and the tyrant
Is freely wandering in our homes"...
And from the battlefield vanished
The brightness of swords and the horses...
And over weeping sounds now
We hear the beats of drums and rhythm…
They are storming his forts
And shouting: "We will not stop our raids
Until you free our lands"...