Bin Laden denies Moussaoui link

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The Independent US

Osama bin Laden has denounced the conviction of Zacarias Moussaoui - the only person convicted over 9/11 - saying that he had no connection with the attacks and was never intended to be the "20th hijacker".

In an audio recording posted on a website previously used by al-Qa'ida, Bin Laden said he had personally selected the 19 men involved in the September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

"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 reportedly sounds like the al-Qa'ida leader.

He added: "The participants in September 11 were two groups - pilots and support teams for each pilot in order to control the aircraft. And since Zacarias Moussaoui was learning how to fly, it follows that he was not the 20th person in the teams which helped to control the airplanes, as your government previously claimed."

If verified, this recording would be the third released by Bin Laden this year. What may be noteworthy is the speed at which the al-Qa'ida leader has responded to events; it is less than three weeks since Moussaoui was sentenced to life.