The tape is believed to have been made Nov. 7. It was found in an abandoned house in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, after that city fell to anti-Taliban forces, according to Pentagon officials.
The 39-minute video begins with the end of bin Laden's remarks at a business dinner in Afghanistan because the amateur photographer ran out of tape and rewound it to capture the end of bin Laden's remarks. Therefore, the chronological beginning of bin Laden's remarks is missing.
The tape was not apparently intended for public consumption.
For accuracy's sake, the low-quality video was translated by four independent Arabic interpreters over the course of the last week, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke.
The Pentagon did not provide a translation for the Arabic word "fiqh," which United Press International translates as "understanding, comprehension or jurisprudence regarding Islamic law."
(Transcript and annotations independently prepared by George Michael, translator, Diplomatic Language Services; and Kassem M. Wahba, Arabic language program coordinator, School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University. They collaborated on their translation and compared it with translations done by the U.S. government for consistency. There were no inconsistencies in the translations.)
Background: In mid-November, Osama Bin Laden spoke to a room of supporters, possibly in Kandahar, Afghanistan. These comments were videotaped with the knowledge of bin Laden and all present.
Note: The tape is approximately one hour long and contains three segments: an original taping of a visit by some people to the site of the downed U.S. helicopter in Ghazni province (approximately 12 minutes long); and two segments documenting a courtesy visit by bin Laden and his lieutenants to an unidentified Shaykh, who appears crippled from the waist down. The visit apparently takes place at a guesthouse in Kandahar. The sequence of the events is reversed on the tape -- the end of his visit is in the beginning of the tape with the helicopter site visit in the middle and the start of the Osama bin Laden visit beginning approximately 39 minutes into the tape. The tape is transcribed below according to the proper sequence of events.
Due to the quality of the original tape, it is not a verbatim transcript of every word spoken during the meeting, but does convey the messages and information flow.
EDITOR'S NOTE: 39 minutes into tape, first segment of the bin Laden meeting, begins after footage of helicopter site visit.
Shaykh: (...inaudible...) You have given us weapons, you have given us hope and we thank Allah for you. We don't want to take much of your time, but this is the arrangement of the brothers. People now are supporting us more, even those ones who did not support us in the past, support us more now. I did not want to take that much of your time. We praise Allah, we praise Allah. We came from Kabul. We were very pleased to visit. May Allah bless you both at home and the camp. We asked the driver to take us, it was a night with a full moon, thanks be to Allah. Believe me it is not in the countryside. The elderly ... everybody praises what you did, the great action you did, which was first and foremost by the grace of Allah. This is the guidance of Allah and the blessed fruit of jihad.
OBL: Thanks to Allah. What is the stand of the Mosques there (in Saudi Arabia)?
Shaykh: Honestly, they are very positive. Shaykh al Bahrani (phonetic) gave a good sermon in his class after the sunset prayers. It was videotaped and I was supposed to carry it with me, but unfortunately, I had to leave immediately.
OBL: The day of the events?
OBL: Thanks be to Allah.
Shaykh: This is what I asked from Allah. He (Bahrani) told the youth: "You are asking for martyrdom and wonder where you should go (for martyrdom)?" Allah was inciting them to go. I asked Allah to grant me to witness the truth in front of the unjust ruler. We ask Allah to protect him and give him the martyrdom, after he issued the first fatwa. He was detained for interrogation, as you know. When he was called in and asked to sign, he told them, "don't waste my time, I have another fatwa. If you want me, I can sign both at the same time."
OBL: Thanks be to Allah.