In a new videotape posted on the Internet on Tuesday, Osama bin Laden reasserted his role as the planner of the Sept. 11 attacks and declared that Zacarias Moussaoui had played no role in the 2001 plot.
Moussaoui was sentenced on May 4 to life in federal prison for failing to warn US authorities of the attacks. He had told jurors that he had conspired with Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, to fly a plane into the White House on the day of the hijackings, but US intelligence officials have said there was no evidence to support that claim.
Though a technical review of the tape was incomplete on Tuesday night, a US counterterrorism official said that the speaker appeared to be bin Laden. The tape includes English subtitles and a still photograph of the al-Qaeda leader in front of a plain white wall.
During the four-and-a-half-minute tape, the voice believed to be that of bin Laden addresses "the American people," saying Moussaoui had "no connection whatsoever" with Sept. 11.
According to a translation by the SITE Institute, a private organization in Washington that tracks terrorism on the Internet, bin Laden adds, "I am certain of what I say, because I was responsible for entrusting the 19 brothers, Allah have mercy upon them, with those raids."
He says that the hijackers were divided into "pilots and support teams" but that Moussaoui was "only learning to fly."
Bin Laden also lists others who he says had no role in the Sept. 11 attacks, including prisoners held by the US in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and several individuals he describes as working for relief agencies and the news media.
The counterterrorism official called the tape "propaganda" possibly intended to demonstrate that bin Laden "is still relevant."