The following is a translated full transcript of Osama bin Laden's video-taped message aired on the Al-Jazeera satellite television network, as provided by the U.S. government.
The prohibited month, for the prohibited month, and so for all things prohibited, there is the law of equality. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves.
No we fight you because we are free men who don't sleep under oppression. We want to restore freedom to our Nation and just as you lay waste to our Nation, so shall we lay waste to yours. No one except a dumb thief plays with the security of others and then makes himself believe he will be secure whereas thinking people when disaster strikes make it their priority to look for its causes in order to prevent it happening again. But I am amazed at you even though we are in the 4th year after the events of Sept 11th. Bush is still engaged in distortion, deception and hiding from you the real causes. And thus the reasons are still there for a repeat of what occurred. So I shall talk to you about the story behind those events and I shall tell you truthfully about the moments in which the decision was taken for you to consider. I say to you Allah knows that it had never occurred to us to strike the towers, but after it became unbearable and we witnessed the oppression and tyranny of the American Israeli coalition against our people in Palestine and Lebanon it came to my mind.
The events that affected my soul in a direct way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American Sixth Fleet helped them in that. The bombardment began and many were killed and injured and others were terrorized and displaced I couldn't forget those moving scenes, blood, and severed limbs, women and children sprawled everywhere. Houses destroyed along with their occupants and high-rises demolished over their residents rockets raining down on our homes without mercy the situations was like a crocodile meeting a helpless child powerless except for his screams. Does the crocodile understand a conversation that doesn't include a weapon? And the whole world saw and heard but didn't respond. In those difficult moments, many hard-to-describe ideas bubbled in my soul, but in the end they produced an intense feeling of rejection of tyranny and gave birth to a strong resolve to punish the oppressors. And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children. And that day, it was confirmed to me that oppression and the intentional killing of innocent women and children is a deliberate American policy. Destruction is freedom and democracy while resistance is terrorism and intolerance. This means the oppressing and embargoing to death of millions as Bush Sr. did in Iraq in the greatest mass slaughter of children mankind has ever known and it means the throwing of millions of pounds of bombs and explosives at millions of children — also in Iraq — as Bush Jr. did in order to remove an old agent and replace him with a new puppet to assist in the pilfering of Iraq's oil and other outrages. So with these images and their like as their background, the events of September 11th came as a reply to those great wrongs.
Should a man to be blamed for defending his sanctuary? Is defending oneself and punishing the aggressor in kind objectionable terrorism? If it is such, then it is unavoidable for us. This is the message which I sought to communicate to you in word and deed repeatedly for years before September 11th. And you can read this, if you wish in my interview with Scott in Time Magazine in 1996 or with Peter Arnett on CNN in 1997 or my meeting with John Weiner in 1998. You can observe it practically, if you wish in Kenya and Tanzania and in Aden. And you can read it in my interview with Abdul Bari Atwan as well as my interviews with Robert Fisk. The latter is one of your compatriots and co-religionists and I consider him to be neutral. So are the pretenders to freedom at the White House and the channels controlled by them able to run an interview with him so that he may relay to the American people what he has understood from us to be the reasons for our fight against you? If you were to avoid these reasons, you will have taken the correct path that will lead America to the security that it was in before September 11th.
This concerned the causes of the war. As for its results, they have been by the Grace of Allah, positive and enormous and have by all standards exceeded all expectations. This is due to many factors, chief amongst them that we haven't' found it difficult to deal with the Bush administration in light of the resemblance it bears to the regimes in our countries half of which are ruled by the military and the other half of which are ruled by the songs of kings and presidents. Our experience with them in lengthy and both types are replete with those who are characterized by pride, arrogance, greed, and misappropriation of wealth. This resemblance began after the visits of Bush Sr. to the region at a time when some of our compatriots were dazzled by America and hoping that these visits would have an effect on our countries all of a sudden he was affected by those monarchies and military regimes and became envious of their remaining decades in their positions to embezzle the public wealth of the Nation without supervision or accounting. So he took dictatorship and suppression of freedoms to his son and they named it the Patriot Act under the pretense of fighting terrorism. In addition, Bush sanctioned the installing of sons as state governors and didn't forget to import expertise in election fraud from the region's presidents to Florida to be made use of in moments of difficulty. All that we have mentioned has made it easy for us to provoke and bait this administration. All that we have to do is to send two Mujahedin to the farthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaida in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human economic and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits to their private companies. This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers as we alongside the Mujahedin bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat. All Praise is due to Allah.
So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah is willing and nothing is too great for Allah. That being said, those who say that al-Qa'ida has won against the administration in the White House or that the administration has lost in this war have not been precise because when one scrutinizes the results, one cannot say that Al-Qa'ida is the sole factor in achieving these spectacular gains. Rather, the policy of the White House that demands the opening of war fronts to keep busy their various corporations — whether they be working in the field of arms or oil or reconstruction — has helped al-Qaida to achieve those enormous results. And so it has appeared to some analysts and diplomats that the White House and us are playing as one team towards the economic goals of the United States even if the intentions differ. And it was to these sorts of notions and their like that the British diplomat and others were referring in their lectures at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (when they pointed out that) for example, al-Qaida spent $500,000 on the event, while America in the incident and its aftermath lost — according to the lowest estimates — more than 500 billion dollars, meaning that every dollar of al-Qaida defeated a million dollars by the permission of Allah besides the loss of a huge number of jobs. As for the size of the economic deficit, it has reached record, astronomical numbers estimated to total more than a trillion dollars. And even more dangerous and bitter for America is that the Mujahedin recently forced Bush to resort to emergency funds to continue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq which is evidence of the success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan with Allah's permission. It is true that this shows that al-Qaida has gained, but on the other hand it shows that the Bush administration has also gained something of which anyone who looks at the size of the contracts acquired by the shady Bush administration-linked mega-corporations, like Halliburton and its kind will be convinced. And it all shows that the real loser is... you. It's the American people and their economy. And for the record, we had agreed with the Commander-General Muhammad Atta. Allah have mercy on him that all the operations should be carried out within 20 minutes before Bush and his administration notice. It never occurred to us that the Command-in-Chief of the American Armed Forces would abandon 50,000 of his citizens in the twin towers to face those great horrors alone at the time when they most needed him. But because it seemed to him that occupying himself by talking to the little girl about the goat and its butting was more important than occupying himself with the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers we were given three times the period required to execute the operations. All praise is due to Allah. And it's no secret to you that the thinkers and perceptive ones from among the Americans warned Bush before the war and told him.
All that you want for securing America and removing the weapons of mass destruction — assuming they exist — is available to you and the nations of the world are with you in the inspections and it is in the interest of America that it not be thrust into an unjustified war with an unknown outcome. But the darkness of the black gold blurred his vision and insight and he gave priority to private interests over the public interest of America. So the war went ahead, the death toll rose, the American economy bled and Bush became embroiled in the swamps of Iraq that threatened his future. He fits the saying "Like the naughty she-goat who used her hoof to dig up a knife from under the earth". So I say to you over 15,000 of our people have been killed and tens of thousands injured while more than a thousand of you have been killed and more than 10,000 injured. And Bush's hands are stained with the blood of all of those killed from both sides all for the sake of oil and keeping their private companies in business. Be aware that it is the nation who punishes the weak man when he causes the killing of one of its citizens for money, while letting the powerful one get off when he causes the killing of more than 1000 of its sons also for money. And the same goes for your allies in Palestine. They terrorize the women and children and kill and capture the men as they lie sleeping with their families on the mattresses that you may recall that for every action, there is a reaction.
Finally, it behooves you to reflect on the last wills and testaments of the thousands who left you on the 11th as they gestured in despair. They are important testaments which should be studied and researched. Among the most important of what I read in them was some prose in their gestures before the collapse where they say "How mistaken we were to have allowed the White House to implement its aggressive foreign policies against the weak without supervision". It is as if they were telling you, "The people of America hold to account those who have caused us to be killed and happy is he who learns from others mistakes". And among that which I read in their gestures is a verse of poetry:
Injustice chases its people
And how unhealthy the bed of tyranny
As has been said
An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure
And know that
It is better to return to the truth than persist in error
And that the wise man doesn't squander his security, wealth, and children for the sake of the liar in the White House.
In conclusion, I tell you in all truth that your security is not in the hands of Kerry, nor Bush, nor al-Qa'ida. No, your security is in your own hands. And every state that doesn't play with our security, has automatically guaranteed its own security. And Allah is our Guardian and Helper while you have no Guardian or Helper.