Osama bin Laden, the No. 1 suspect in the terror attacks for which America retaliated with a missile assault on Afghanistan Sunday, praised God for the Sept. 11 strikes that toppled New York's World Trade Center and a portion of the Pentagon.
"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, and thanks be to God. What America is tasting now is only a copy of what we have tasted," bin Laden said into a microphone in a video shown Sunday on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic satellite station.
"Our Islamic nation has been tasting the same for more than 80 years," he said, adding that President Bush was the "head of the infidels."
Bin Laden was shown dressed in fatigues and an Afghan headdress, kneeling in a stone cave and flanked by two aides. It was not clear when the video was made, but it was shot during daylight and referred to the Sept. 11 attacks but not to Sunday's nighttime retaliation by the United States and Britain.
After the attacks had begun, an official from Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia said that both bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar had survived the initial wave of the attack.
Although he praised the Sept. 11 attacks, bin Laden did not claim responsibility.
It was the first time bin Laden had spoken himself about the Sept. 11 attacks, though he had previously denied responsibility in statements issued through intermediaries.
Friday, Al-Jazeera showed footage of bin Laden at what it said was a celebration of the union of his al-Qaida network and the Egyptian militant group Jihad. It was not clear whether Friday's tape was made after Sept. 11.
Bin Laden has a history of using the closely watched Arab satellite channel to send messages to the outside world from his Afghan hide-out. The Qatar-based TV network has frequently aired exclusive footage of bin Laden, prompting the U.S. to raise concerns about Al-Jazeera's coverage during a meeting with the emir of Qatar in Washington Wednesday.
"I swear to God that America will never dream of security or see it before we live it and see it in Palestine, and not before the infidel's armies leave the land of Muhammad, peace be upon him," he said in Sunday's tape.
Bin Laden's war on America has been fueled by anger at the perceived U.S. slant toward Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and at the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest shrines, including the tomb of the prophet Muhammad.
The video began with an aide, the spokesman for bin Laden's al-Qaida group, reading an opening statement.
"What happened in the United States is a natural reaction to the ignorant policy of the United States," spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith said.
"If it continues with this policy, the sons of Islam will no stop their struggle. The American people have to know that what is happening to them now is the result of their support of this policy," the statement said. "The war against Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden is a war on Islam."
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