Speaking of former president George H.W. Bush, bin Laden said, according to an Associated Press translation: "He wound up being impressed by the royal and military regimes and envied them for staying decades in their positions and embezzling the nation's money with no supervision."
"He passed on tyranny and oppression to his son, and they called it the Patriot Act, under the pretext of fighting terror. Bush the father did well in placing his sons as governors and did not forget to pass on the expertise in fraud from the leaders of the [Middle East] region to Florida to use it in critical moments."
Osama bin Laden, in a videotape broadcast on al-Jazeera, told Americans not to elect any president who would try to destroy al Qaeda.
(Al-jazeera Via AP)
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Bin Laden said he was inspired to destroy the World Trade Center towers by Israel's 1982 attack on Lebanon, in which U.S. battleships aided with bombardments.
"As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, I got the idea of punishing the oppressor the same way, by destroying towers in America so that it would taste some of what we have tasted and stop killing our children and our women," according to the SITE Institute's translation.
Bin Laden also ridiculed President Bush's initial reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks. He said Bush spent precious time "listening to a child discuss her goat," a reference to the minutes after Bush learned of the first attack and continued to sit in a Florida classroom listening to children read. "This had given us three times the time needed to carry out the operations." Bin Laden made several unusual references to "freedom." Juan Cole, a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs at the University of Michigan, said bin Laden is probably "annoyed that Bush has portrayed him as an enemy of freedom."
Cole said bin Laden may also be concerned about the recent election in Afghanistan and the backing the United States has gotten in Iraq for elections from Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the Shiite leader, and he may be "feeling pressure from the success of the electoral process."
Bush has rarely spoken to reporters in his final campaign sprint, but he paused beside Air Force One in Toledo to address the tape.
"Americans will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country," he said. "I'm sure Senator Kerry agrees with this. I also want to say to the American people that we're at war with these terrorists and I am confident that we will prevail."
About the same time, Kerry told reporters in West Palm Beach, Fla.: "As Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden and the terrorists. They are barbarians. And I will stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes. Period."
Terrorism expert Rita Katz, founder of the SITE Institute, said she believes it is significant that the tape is being released during Ramadan, because al Qaeda publications have urged attacks during this time.
The SITE Institute reported on Oct. 1 that it had come across an Islamist message board posting predicting release of an audiotape. It said: "One of the brothers is going to post links to a new audiotape by Sheikh Osama Bin Laden, God Protect and Support him. He shall do so after the sunset prayer, Saudi time."
Staff writers Mike Allen, Nora Boustany and Susan Schmidt and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.