The Al-Ansaar Islamic news agency, based in the English city of Birmingham, said Sunday that it was given the 40-minute video by a Pakistani security official in Islamabad about a month ago. It includes separate sections that seem to have been filmed at different times.
According to the news agency, the official said some sections of the film were shot in March in the southern Afghan town of Spinboldak, near the Pakistani border. But it said his claim was impossible to verify.
If the film were just two months old it would be the first proof that bin Laden was alive as recently as early spring. That would mean he survived the U.S. bombardment in Tora Bora, eastern Afghanistan, and other military campaigning.
However, the chief editor of the Qatar-based Arab television station Al-Jazeera, which has aired videos showing bin Laden in the past, said Monday that people at the station had seen the same tape months ago and believed it was recorded in October.
"This is the same tape that we had four months ago, which we didn't show because we didn't think it was newsworthy," said the editor, Ibrahim Helal. "There was nothing new in it and seemed to be a PR stunt. We think it was recorded sometime in October."
According to The Sunday Times newspaper, which obtained the video from Al-Ansaar, the section filmed most recently showed bin Laden sitting beneath a tree in a camouflage jacket, praising Allah and talking about holy wars.
In another section, The Sunday Times said bin Laden warned that any country siding with Israel would be a target. "The war is between us and the Jews," the paper quoted him as saying on the tape. "Any country that steps into the same trench as the Jews has only herself to blame."
On Monday, Britain's Foreign Office said that security officials would examine the tape. Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official said the foreign office is aware of a general threat against Western interests and that the video did not increase that threat.
The first word from bin Laden after the Sept. 11 attacks came as the United States struck at his Afghan bases on Oct. 7. In a message taped before the U.S. strike but aired afterward on Al-Jazeera, bin Laden reveled in the fear the attacks had created. Wearing fatigues and clutching a rifle, he swore that America would not know security until its troops were out of Saudi Arabia.
Since then, he has appeared on several tapes released by Al-Jazeera, CNN or the Pentagon. Other al Qaeda tapes have surfaced carrying messages from bin Laden's deputies or images of al Qaeda training exercises.