Response to Maher Osseiran’s Critique of David Ray Griffin’s Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive?

Maher Osseiran, who has written about Osama bin Laden and his many videos, recently wrote a rather scathing critique of David Ray Griffin’s Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive? I had planned to write about the book at more length, but, sparked by Osseiran’s article, I figure I’ll address one issue now.

In chapter 2, “Two Fake Bin Laden Videos in 2001,” Griffin discusses a recording that he calls the “October Video,” in which bin Laden makes statements some people regard as incriminating concerning the 9/11 attacks. Griffin points out that the contents of the video were previewed in the British media, but that when British Prime Minister Tony Blair then referred to them in a speech, he did not release the video.

Griffin argues that the British government would have released the video, “unless the video was a fake and the government decided, between November 11 [when the video’s existence was first revealed in the English-language press] and 14 [when Blair first mentioned it officially], that the fakery was so obvious that it should deny having a copy while merely releasing damning ‘excerpts.’”

Griffin later adds:

… while it is impossible to determine, on the basis of the evidence that has been made public, what really lay behind this strange episode, it seems likely that a fabrication of some sort occurred, because if a genuine bin Laden confession video had been obtained, the British government would almost certainly have made it public. Perhaps a fake video was made and then never broadcast. Or the fabrication could have been simply the claim that a bin Laden confession video existed.

I am hardly the world’s greatest bin Laden expert, but, based on Griffin’s 4-page discussion of the video, it was clear to me that this video was Al-Jazeera journalist Tayseer Allouni’s October 20 interview with bin Laden in Afghanistan.

Osseiran writes:

An attempt [to publish the video of the interview] in mid November 2001, by Blair failed. An Al-Jazeera bureau chief explained what happened; Blair attempted to release a tape of a Bin Laden interview conducted by Al-Jazeera. The interview was to be comprised of responses to questions by both Al-Jazeera and CNN. When the Al-Jazeera’s team reached Bin Laden’s hideout to conduct the interview, their questions were tossed out and were informed that Bin Laden had his own set of questions with prepared answers. The news team objected, but feeling threatened, accepted to conduct the interview. Also, Bin Laden put a condition on Al-Jazeera, either Al-Jazeera airs all or none of the interview. Such a condition forced Al-Jazeera to choose none and refused to be intimidated or to act as Bin Laden’s mouthpiece.

A similar account of the interview and its non-publication can be found in Hugh Miles’ Al-Jazeera: How Arab TV News Challenged the World, published in 2005 (pages 176-182 in the Abacus paperback edition). Also see here.

What neither Osseiran nor Griffin say is that the video is actually now public. Here’s a CNN article marking its first broadcast, which was on 31 January 2002, and here’s the transcript of the interview.

This is clearly the interview the press and Blair referred to in mid-November. For example, the summary released by the British government in mid-November quotes bin Laden as saying:

It is what we instigated for a while, in self-defence. If avenging the killing of our people is terrorism, let history be a witness that we are terrorists.

The interview transcript says:

If inciting people to do that is terrorism, and if killing those who kill our sons is terrorism, then let history be witness that we are terrorists.

The British summary says:

The battle has been moved inside America, and we shall continue until we win this battle, or die in the cause and meet our maker.

The interview transcript says:

The battle has moved to inside America. We will work to continue this battle, God permitting, until victory or until we meet God before that occurs.

You have to ask the question: why did Griffin not point out that the video whose authenticity he was questioning had been public for seven years? If one is considering claiming that a video is fake, would it not be wise to actually view and analyse it, and then discuss that analysis with one’s readers? Of course, there is the possibility that Griffin remained unaware that the video had actually been broadcast, but this then says what about his research?


Whether bin Laden is dead or alive is a key issue in global politics with massive potential ramifications. The whole world runs on the assumption he is alive and that we must catch him, with massive resources being allocated and people being killed, at least in part, based on this assumption. Given the extreme uncertainty around whether bin Laden is dead or alive, Griffin’s book, albeit flawed, is to be welcomed as a contribution to a debate that is smaller than it should be.

Finally, in his conclusion Osseiran indulges in a very nasty and unnecessary attack on Griffin—accusing him of being an agent of the US government. This is silly and lowers the tone.

Re-posted from here.

Will The Real bin Laden Please Stand Up

Maybe the real reason it wasn't aired in Great Britain in November, 2001 is because the same fat bin Laden was used in the video as the video the Marines found in Afghanistan that same month. So it takes them until January 2002 to come up with a more convincing bin Laden imposter.

Dean Jackson/Editor-in-Chief
Washington, DC

Do you now see why I finished the article the way I did

It is simply because Mr. Griffin reinforced the unsubstantiated fat bin Laden myth while he knew well the material that challenges the myth.

In peace
Maher Osseiran

Bin Laden, real or fake?

The 'confession' taping may well have been a sting; and Bin Laden may have sent one of his doubles to the meeting. It's not just the appearance of greater weight that leads people to be skeptical that Osama Bin Laden is the one in the 'confession' video; the nose is a different shape. Plus, would Osama Bin Laden, with his background in construction, really say, “I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building…” How could he not know it was steel, not iron? How could he not know the jet fuel fire would not cause the steel (or even iron) to melt?

December 13, 2001: Authenticity of Bin Laden ‘Confession’ Video Is Disputed

Mr. Osseiran, do you accept that all the messages put out by 'Osama Bin Laden' since 9/11 are authentic? Is there anything that leads you to question the authenticity of any of them?

Osama bin Elvis

The Shocking Truth About Osama bin Laden: Apparently, he reads our blogs.

Cheekbones Are Wrong No Matter How You Look At Them

loose nuke,

even if you elongate the fat bin Laden video, the cheekbones don't match.

Since bin Laden said (before the fat bin Laden tape was found) he didn't execute 9/11, and that killing civilians was against Islam, the last thing he would do is pretend that he did execute 9/11.

Dean Jackson/Editor-in-Chief
Washington, DC

agreed - confession tape is fraudulent

It's an obvious fraud. DRG is spot on, as were the Loose Change team and everyone else who pointed out the discrepancies. The confession vid is a blatant obvious fraud.

With you in the struggle,
WeAreChangeLA -
I work for the 9-11 First Responders, the 9-11 victims, and all those who are being slaughtered and tortured because of 9-11.

Ask the interviewers

Presumably if the interview was conducted by Al Jazeera, whether they were manipulated by Bin Laden or not, there were actual journalists who conducted that interview.

Why doesn't anyone ask Al Jezeera to produce them and interview them under oath about the interview.

I don't think simply using, showing, publishing, forming policy based on an unsubstantiated video of document is acceptable.

Authentication is key here.


I read Osseiran's take on the kidney problem, so technically, it is possible he has survived.

However... and this is speculation, but I don't think the true perpetrator's of the attacks would want OBL alive so he could (read Fact #29) continue to deny his involvement.

That would mean all of the videos after his death, whenever that was, have been faked...

All speculation. There are credible reports that he was "protected" or "allowed to escape" in Tora Bora. I don't think anyone knows what happened to him after Tora Bora. To my knowledge, there haven't been any, "we were within minutes of getting Bin Laden" reports since Tora Bora. Am I right?

We have no idea whether or not he is dead. We DO KNOW that the longer he is perceived to be alive, the longer the warmongers can wage war.

Here is an old interview of Michael Wolsey with Ed Haas discussing this issue.

Do these people deserve to know how and why their loved ones were murdered? The facts speak for themselves.

Dead by Murder


Benazir Bhutto would have known whether her cousin was dead or not, and she said bin Laden was murdered.

Dean Jackson/Editor-in-Chief
Washington, DC

I remember when I first saw that video...

And to me, it looked as though she meant to say Daniel Pearl. That Saeed Sheikh murdered Daniel Pearl, which he is sitting in prison for right now. Of course, now that she is assassinated, she will never have the chance to clarify her statement unfortunately.

You're talking to someone who thinks OBL is dead, and has been for a long time for the reasons I mentioned above. However, other than news reports, I have no way of telling you when he died, how he died, or who/what killed him. Technically, he could be alive, though it is doubtful. So, I wouldn't state it as fact. I would, however, refer people to the reports I have collected over the years about his death (read Fact #42).

Do these people deserve to know how and why their loved ones were murdered? The facts speak for themselves.

Time to Give Up the Ghost on bin Laden,8599,1946099,00.html

a robert baer essay published by time magazine which only serves as more distraction for the true goals of the occupation of afghanistan and destabilization of pakistan: opium production, trafficking, securing criminal assets from the production/trafficking trade to be used covertly to destabilize pakistan, and of course natural gas and oil.

the US government doesn't care where bin laden is, dead or alive; so long as they as can continue propagandizing the bin laden legacy in order to get the US public (and NATO) to support the illegal occupation of afghanistan (and the illegal and cowardly unmanned military drone attacks inside pakistan).

Has bin laden interview been public for 7 years??

This is very strange. Am I the only one who has only recently seen this BL interview (and this is definitely the real Bin Laden himself)?. I find it very odd that, despite frequently searching the internet (you tube, the web etc.) for signs of bin laden statements on his involvement in 9/11 and other matters, I have just now learnt, that this interview is public to see (not just a transcript, wich anyone could have fabricated). I HAVE NEVER SEEN THIS INTERVIEW POSTED ON YOUTUBE OR ELSEWHERE BEFORE AND I HAVE NEVER HEARD ABOUT ANY ONE ELSE HAVING SEEN IT ANYWHERE! Could this have been around for 7 years without researchers noticing it??? Furthermore: Can anyone please find the part, where BL explicitely says, that he is directly involved. He talks of "inciting" attacks, but this just implies "calling for"/"whishing" in generel terms. To me, his statements and appearance seems like that of a pathetic terrorist attaching himself to an event, which he has never been the architect or planner of at all.