Osama bin Laden has released a new tape, and as noted by the AP, discusses Zacarias Moussaoui’s lack of connections with the 9/11 plot:
Osama bin Laden purportedly said in an audio tape Tuesday that Zacarias Moussaoui – the only person convicted in the U.S. for the Sept. 11 attacks – had nothing to do with the operation.
“He had no connection at all with Sept. 11,” the speaker, claiming to be bin Laden, said in the tape posted on the Internet.
“I am the one in charge of the 19 brothers and I never assigned brother Zacarias to be with them in that mission,” he said, referring to the 19 hijackers.
The al-Qaida chief said the Sept. 11 hijackers were divided into two groups, “pilots and assistants.”
“Since Zacarias Moussaoui was still learning how to fly, he wasn’t No. 20 in the group, as your government has claimed,” bin Laden said. “It knows this very well,” he added.
Bin Laden said Moussaoui was not a security risk for al-Qaida, because he did not have knowledge of the plot.
“Brother Moussaoui was arrested two weeks before the events, and if he had known something – even very little – about the Sept. 11 group, we would have informed the leader of the operation, Mohammad Atta, and the others … to leave America before being discovered,” Bin Laden said.
CNN notes that unlike recent tapes, this one makes no new threats to carry out terrorist attacks, which makes it very different from his typical messages, although I’m hesitant to read anything into that fact.