Analyst: Still images suggest Bin Laden video doctored to seem new
The Osama bin Laden video released this past September 7, just prior to the sixth anniversary of 9/11, has provoked widespread suspicions of fraud. In particular, bin Laden's beard -- which was grey and ragged in the video released just before the 2004 election -- is thick, black, and neatly trimmed in the new footage.
The video aroused widespread suspicions that bin Laden's beard had been faked in some way, with former White House counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke even speculating that bin Laden had shaved in order to hide out in a country like Indonesia, where Muslim men do not wear beards, and had then pasted on a false beard for the video.
More recently, it has been noted that all but a small portion of the 25-minute video consists of still images, including the section which mentions current events, suggesting the possibility that old footage has been doctored to seem new.
Computer security consultant Neal Krawetz told NBC News that the latest video is strikingly similar to the previous 2004 release, appearing to use the same studio setting and clothing, but that the beard itself does not appear to be false. Other video analysts are in disagreement about whether the videos could have been recorded at the same time -- and if so, how to explain the difference in bin Laden's beard.
Fox News spoke about the controversy to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, vice president for research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
"I'm not an expert on video analysis," Gartenstein-Ross replied. "I don't have a view as to whether or not this video were pre-recorded."
However, he expressed more self-assurance on the question of bin Laden's beard, saying, "There are only certain circumstances under Islamic law where you're allowed to dye your beard black. One of those is as a tool of war, to make yourself seem like a more formidable opponent."
"Deception itself is only allowed under certain circumstances under Islamic law," Gartenstein-Ross continued. "Al Qaeda may well have thought that ... it was permissible to go ahead and record a great deal of video in case bin Laden is still alive but unable to appear on video."
The following video is from Fox's Fox & Friends, broadcast on October 31, 2007.