I’m fully inclined to believe Osama’s statement of September 28, 2001, in which he claims innocence of 9/11. Why would he lie? Osama has proved on many occasions that he is not afraid to die, and for any terrorist the 9/11 operation was worth dying for. Militants without a state affiliation do not fear reprisal; they brag about their terrorist acts, never shrink from acknowledging them.

The refined planning of 9/11 contrasts to the primitive car and boat bombings Al Qaeda staged elsewhere both before and after. Security on internal US and European flights has not improved critically; why doesn’t al Qaeda resume its highly successful and inexpensive hijacking attacks?

The “Osama” tape the US released on December 13, 2001, shows a man visually different from Bin Laden. He claims he knew of the 9/11 attacks five days in advance. That’s ridiculously inconsistent with planning the action. Al Qaeda, a well-financed organization, could spare a few hundred dollars for a decent video camera to tape a significant speech by its leader. The audio, however, is hardly decipherable.

Why was the current Bin Laden video released close to September 11 rather than on Jumada 22 according to the Arabic calendar? Muslims celebrate all events according to their calendar. The video shows nothing to prove Osama’s role in 9/11. It pictures Muslim guerillas training in martial arts, playing with knives, and conducting similar low-end exercises. Osama is filmed talking to some of the possible planners of 9/11, but at the time of filming they evidently were planning nothing.

The Russian government blew up apartment houses in Moscow and blame it on the Chechens to fan war sentiment. It is practically insignificant now whether al Qaeda perpetrated 9/11. The US government popularized the obscure al Qaeda among Muslims. Instead, the US should have rejected the group’s role in the attacks. In the ideological war, the last thing we want to give our enemies is heroes.