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Bin Laden Tape is Insufficient Evidence

Judge yourself: left: Tape’s ‘Ben Laden’ and right: Ben Laden on Aljazeerah

Cairo: (IoL): The videotape the U.S. government considers strong evidence linking Osama bin Laden to the deadly September 11th attacks has been dismissed as "unreal" by many Arab and Muslim scholars. 

Ahmad Rashidi, international law professor at Cairo University, told IslamOnline that with the technological and communication boom, and the advancement of editing and graphic technology, creating a tape like this is quite feasible and simple. 

From a law perspective, a tape like this would not be sufficient evidence establishing bin Laden's involvement. It could be considered as contributing evidence, but not sole solid evidence, he said.

With regards to the timing of the tape's release, Rashidi said the U.S. chose it to convince the Islamic and Arab world that bin Laden is responsible, so that if he is killed, the secret dies with him and this tape remains as evidence against him.

"From a law point of view, a suspect is innocent till proven guilty through a fair trial which preserves all his rights to defend himself," said Rashidi. 
New York Times quoted Jordanian political analyst Labib Kamhawi saying that the quality of the tape is poor and that he is skeptical of the translation of the dialogue.

He added that language must not be taken out of its cultural context so that it could be understood properly.

Kamhawi added that the happiness, which bin Laden showed on the tape when speaking to his companions about the September 11 attacks, does not mean a thing. The same gladness was shown in many Arab and Muslim homes, he added.

Speaking to the BBC, Professor John Gibbon from the University of Sydney said that while there is synchronization between the lips and sound, there is no guarantee that the tape could not have been doctored. 

"The tape is in a very bad quality so it is quite possible that it could have been fiddled with," he said. The second layer of problems is that because it is a very bad quality tape, in order to hear the actual words you would have to replay it several times and in several ways.

"Even with an Arabic speaker you need to do that," said Gibbon. "There are several electronic tricks that could improve audio and video quality."

He added that after checking the exact words spoken, they need to be taken in cultural context. "You need to know what exactly was meant. Many times people mean different things using the same words or even mean the same thing using different words." 

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