Bin Laden says Moussaoui not part of Sept 11

DUBAI - Osama bin Laden said Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person convicted in a US court for the Sept. 11 attacks, had nothing to do with the operations, according to a website audiotape released today.

Bin Laden said he had personally assigned tasks to the 19 hijackers who staged the attacks on US cities which killed about 3000 people.

"The truth is that he has no connection whatsoever with the events of September 11. I am certain of what I say because I was responsible for entrusting the 19 brothers ... with the raids," said the speaker who sounded like the leader of Al Qaeda.

The authenticity of the tape could not be verified. It was posted on a website often used by Al Qaeda.

Moussaoui was sentenced on May 4 to life in prison with no chance of release, ending 4-1/2 years of legal wrangling over his fate.

The 37-year-old French citizen of Moroccan descent pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy in connection with the attacks, in which hijacked airliners were flown into buildings in New York City and Washington D.C.

Some US officials initially said they believed Moussaoui was to have taken part in the September 11 attacks as a 20th hijacker. Others later said he was supposed to have been part of a second wave of attacks that were not carried out.

- REUTERS

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