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December 8, 2009

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

Filed under: Complete 911 Timeline — kevinfenton @ 2:45 am
Tags: , , ,

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.


  1. None of this addresses the fact that the video itself was never offered at the time it should have been offered, instead offering these supposed “translation snippets”, which everyone is just supposed to take their word on.

    It also doesn’t address the fact that the longer they waited to release it, the more time someone would have had to “clean it up”, until it contained what was “needed”.

    Bin Laden directly denied any involvement in 9/11 more than once, but every time Bush and the Boys needed more public support to raise the “terror level” and pass his Patriot Acts, “suddenly” would surface another bin Laden video containing all the required “confessions”.

    Anyone who believes this “19 Arabs with boxcutters took down America” BS simply needs his head examined. Now, THAT’S a real conspiracy theory if I’ve ever heard one!

    Comment by Devil's Advocate — December 8, 2009 @ 5:20 pm | Reply

  2. “The whole world runs on the assumption he is alive and that we must catch him”

    Isn’t that a bit of an overstretch? The reason why Bush & Blair invoked the WMDs-ready-to-go-off-on-45-minutes-notice story was because they didn’t feel confident that the Saddam-behind-911 story would be enough to persaude people to support an invasion of Iraq. With regards to more current trends, it would be more accurate to say that the whole world runs around the fact that the economy is an a toilet bowl. This is the main reason why the US Armed Forces are still able to recruit. People know that getting out of the army will put them on the job market, at a time when there isn’t much there. The level of disillusionment which has spread among people is wide enough that if the economy today were humming along the way it had been 45 years ago at the time of Vietnam then I can guarantee the US army would be running low on recruits in the absence of a draft. It’s not a belief in any particular scenario about 911 which is creating a supply of army volunteers out of the recent high school graduates. Too many 911-activists have worked themselves up with the assumption that somehow unearthing evidence of a hidden conspiracy will be the key to changing the world. That assumption is a bit overblown, no matter what the truth about 911 may be.

    Comment by Deleted — December 8, 2009 @ 5:25 pm | Reply

  3. Dear Kevin,
    I knew the tape eventually became public and that is irrelevant.

    What is relevant is that David Ray Griffin’s research is questionable and that is what I was pointing out.

    I might be a little angry and confrontational and have good reasons. As you might surmise, there were communications between DRG and me and DRG was very aware of my research and I don’t know of any other serious research into the bin Laden confession tape, please point one if you can, still, DRG wrote a book that is on the surface noble but with very serious detrimental implications.

    In any case, it had to be done and considering the shortcomings of the book and the quality of research, David Ray Griffin needs to respond.

    In peace,
    Maher Osseiran

    Comment by Maher Osseiran — December 8, 2009 @ 10:14 pm | Reply

  4. This quote from Osseiran suggests Bin Laden was interviewing himself:

    “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.”

    But then I read this in the CNN transcript:

    Q: Do you have anything to do with anthrax that is spreading around the world?

    BIN LADEN: These diseases are a punishment from God and a response to oppressed mothers’ prayers in Lebanon, Iraq and
    Palestine. There is no wall between the prayer of the oppressed and God. This is God’s response to these prayers.

    So…Bin Laden is asking himself an exculpatory question I suppose? Wondering about his motivations for doing this is compelling…I suppose because the White House was trying to pin those attacks on him? Why doesn’t he deny directly? Why doesn’t he literally say: “The White House is making false accusations”?

    If this is Bin Laden’s behavior with respect to terrorist attacks that he had nothing to do with, then in what light should we see other statements that imply involvement in the 9/11 attacks? Osama Bin Laden likes to speak in metaphors, religious verses and riddles (perhaps because of a narcissistic personality?) and it doesn’t help to lift the fog around this mysterious, slippery GWOT at all.

    What in heaven’s name is the PR strategy behind all these ambiguous, cryptic, double-faced comments? Is OBL deliberately sowing the seeds of confusion? I would say he has roundly succeeded in that department.

    Comment by Interesting — December 9, 2009 @ 7:15 am | Reply

  5. “Why doesn’t he deny directly? Why doesn’t he literally say: “The White House is making false accusations”?”

    He certainly DID, and more than once.

    Comment by Devil's Advocate — December 9, 2009 @ 9:41 pm | Reply

    • Devil’s Advocate, sure, but in this particular instance (the Anthrax Attacks) I mean.

      We know for absolute certain that OBL wasn’t responsible for that one. Why is he alluding to Allah as the cause which leaves a degree of uncertainty as to his involvement? Why not state unequivocally “I had nothing to do with that?”.

      I’m a little bit frustrated with the riddled nature of his statements. Anyways, have you seen “Knights of the Manhattan Raid”? I don’t think it’s as cut and dry a situation where OBL either did or did not do it. I think an unholy alliance existed, whether OBL knew it or not, between him and the Bush/Cheney administration. An alliance that goes back to its origins in 1979, when it all started with Carter and Brzezinski. A further clue is provided by triple agent (FBI/CIA/Al Qaeda) and tactical expert Ali Mohamed. Where is he now? In protective custody I believe. What’s the point of all these relations and infiltrations if there wasn’t a real terror attack in the making? Somehow, (in my humble opinion) people prefer to be dealt false dilemmas. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, it can be both.

      Comment by Interesting — December 10, 2009 @ 1:56 pm | Reply

      • What earthly significance should bin Laden’s content or delivery manner make in such a case, and at that point? He outwardly denied any involvement in 9/11 in the first place, and knows he’s being used as a patsy by those he was tied to in the US, as that’s part of the game.

        As far as I’m concerned, the emergence of the Anthrax threat was just too “timely”, as were the faked videos. All of it served a purpose in Bush’s need to get Americans to sacrifice their liberties and supply the manpower for this “War on Terror”.

        Look at who the recipients of the Anthrax were, anyway. These were people we know were looking to blow the whistle on Bush and the Boys, and then suddenly, we heard no more.

        Without all these US covert operations “creating” all these “targets” for the “War on Terror”, there wouldn’t be a Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. Just like OBL, Saddam suited a purpose for them. Saddam was the poster boy for the CIA, until he realized he couldn’t just sell out his country’s resources to the US, as he was expected. It was then he became this “evil dictator” that needed to be exorcised, and only the US could do it.

        This kind of shit has been going on far longer than bin Laden. One false flag after another from the US, somehow justifying the continual firing up of the War Machine. And the People keep buying it.

        [edited on the chance that the poster is advocating violence]

        Comment by Devil's Advocate — December 10, 2009 @ 2:53 pm

  6. Guys, I did not even bother listening to that video.
    Whatever bin Laden says, if it is a prepared statement, it is designed to achieve a purpose.
    You can say, it is designed to benefit him, hurt the west, and give a version of the truth that his followers can sink their teeth in.
    Since this was a mock interview makes what I just said even stronger.
    He was trying to use the credibility of Al-Jazeera to deceive, that is why Al-Jazeera decided not to air the video.
    The video eventually aired but it is a waste of time to try to decipher its content.
    In peace,
    Maher Osseiran
    On http://www.mydemocracy.net, please read, “Is bin Laden Responsible for the 9/11 Attacks?”

    Comment by Maher Osseiran — December 10, 2009 @ 6:51 am | Reply

  7. Hi guys,
    I am still waiting for David Ray Griffin to respond.
    Anyway, now that we are watching Obama accept his Nobel Peace Prize, you might want to read this article that was published prior to his election as president.
    I think a guy named Nostradamus wrote it; just a joke
    It is titled “Obama – America’s ‘Second Chance’ or is it its Last?”
    found at
    Read it and compare to what is going on in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.

    Don’t know how closely you guys follow international happenings.
    BTW, this article I refer you to was written before Obama was elected and was the leading article of a think tank in England and the director was quoting it left and right on a trip to Pakistan.

    Again, and I have said it so often, the only way we can stop the wars is by prosecuting Bush and his gang. It is also the way to stop Obama. Obama is just a figure head.

    Maher Osseiran

    Comment by Maher Osseiranm — December 10, 2009 @ 11:09 pm | Reply

  8. Have you guys heard from DRG yet???

    Comment by Maher Osseiran — December 15, 2009 @ 6:44 am | Reply

    • I haven’t heard from him. And I doubt he will respond publicly.

      Comment by kevinfenton — December 15, 2009 @ 10:38 am | Reply

      • BTW, are you working on your review to this recent book.

        On another topic, been trying to add the incident of Nov. 2, 2001 to the history common. Sent an email about two years ago.

        The issue is the Predator, of which at the time there were two examples and most likely run by the CIA that collided with the Navy helicopter outside that village where bin Laden’s kids lived.

        The information was extracted from the December 13 video released by the Pentagon with cross references from Al-Jazeera interviews in that village.

        The collision did take place, helicopter and predator went down, we have evidence; stills extracted from the tape with bin Laden’s kids handling wreckage.

        There are two versions as to why the collision took place and I only reported one, bad weather, because I had evidence of that.

        The other version from intelligence sources is that the CIA Predator intentionally rammed the helicopter in order to sabotage the mission.

        Since these sources refused to answer specific questions, I never used the information.

        Facts are facts though, they collided on November 2, 2001 and there is an interesting report from The Observer about the helicopter. It basically said that the events of that day indicate that the helicopter was on a very sensitive mission and not the recovery of a wounded soldier as the Pentagon claimed.

        Please give me your thoughts and if there is a need to resend that email.

        Comment by Maher Osseiran — December 15, 2009 @ 10:59 am

  9. OK, helicopter crash. That’s this, right?


    Can I ask for a link to the Observer article you mentioned? Thanks.

    Comment by kevinfenton — December 15, 2009 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

  10. I was referring to the following report
    This is all I could find today
    The previous one I had seen added that the helicopters originated from the USS Roosevelt.
    I thought I had saved all reference documents because sensitive ones seem to disappear off the net.
    Also, the previous one sounded like the Guardian reporter was reporting from the USS Roosevelt itself and was basing his reporting on conversation with crew members.
    Still, what is left talks about the sensitivity of the operation and hints that it was not a simple rescue mission.
    My research into night vision equipment indicates that there is a serious deterioration when the weather is rain and freezing rain, vision would drop to between 50 and 100 feet. It is almost like flying in a snow storm with the high beams on going 300 miles an hour. It is suicidal to fly in such conditions.
    To have both, helicopter and Predator in the same airspace and to crash on a hill by where Osama bin Laden’s family lives, especially when Afghanistan is as big as Texas and that village is one hundredth the size of Amarillo, is no coincidence.

    Comment by Maher Osseiran — December 15, 2009 @ 10:24 pm | Reply

  11. OK, I’ll add that event to the database based on the Guardian article. Don’t hold your breath, though. It can take some time for an entry to make its way through the system.

    Comment by kevinfenton — December 18, 2009 @ 3:29 am | Reply

  12. Update on David Ray Griffin

    I just got off the phone with the publisher of “Bin Laden Dear or Alive”
    He has not heard back from David Ray Griffin.
    This time, I asked that David Ray Griffin responds and that a lack of response would indicate that something is wrong.
    I also expressed that the rewriting of history is not acceptable and that I am looking for remedies.

    Please tell me if you heard back from David Ray Griffin.
    I know you asked him to response.

    Also, you mentioned that you were planning on writing a piece about the book, is it still your intention.

    Maher Osseiran

    Comment by Maher Osseiran — February 10, 2010 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

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