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For the week of December 19 - 25, 2001


Osama tape is 
‘nothing shocking’

Valley reacts to terrorists’ home video

"I accepted that it (the bin Laden tape) was authentic. What makes me angry more is on TV they showed over and over the towers falling. But this is newsworthy."

Eric Remais, KART bus driver

Express Staff Writer

Mary McLaughlin was careful how she phrased this. The 51-year-old reference librarian at the Community Library in Ketchum doesn’t want anyone to think she is cynical about the world. But when she saw television images of Osama bin Laden walking into a room and laughing about the Sept. 11 attacks on America, she "just felt sadness."

She worries about mankind.

Three months after terrorists sowed carnage on national television, Wood River Valley residents watched with stoicism what appeared to be a home video of Osama bin Laden casually gloating in Afghanistan about the attacks to a friend. Television networks broadcast the tape over and over Thursday.

Valley residents were not surprised at what they saw. They said it only reinforced what they already felt to be true—that Osama bin Laden is the irredeemably evil mastermind behind the attacks and that he should be killed. Others were no more emotionally stirred than they already had been since Sept. 11. Some questioned the circumstances surrounding the United State’s acquisition and release of the tape. But, in the end, they believed the tape was authentic.

Kim Rogers, a Ketchum parking enforcement officer making the rounds in her three-wheeled cart Friday, couldn’t wait to get home and watch a recording she had made of the previous night’s news, "just so I can see what the little monster is up to."

Investigators for the FBI told the national media the tape is the most important piece of evidence against bin Laden. Found by U.S. soldiers in an abandoned Afghan home, the tape shows grainy, poorly lit images of bin Laden lounging in conversation with a Saudi sheik. In a translation, bin Laden said he knew the hijack team members and explained how the teams were kept apart to foil detection. The Saudi militant embroidered his talk with biblical references and poetry. At one point, he compared the attacks to a point scored in a soccer game.

"Nothing shocking," said Bill Bohrer, 51, a Ketchum businessman who was checking his mail Friday at the Ketchum Post Office. "I thought the guy was that way all along."

"The circumstances are a little odd that they found this thing in a house, and there it is," said Bohrer, who watched the Osama show when he got home Thursday night. "The thought crossed my mind" that the tape could have been planted as propaganda.

Eric Remais, 46, a KART bus driver working his route Friday, said the tape "didn’t surprise me."

"I accepted that it was authentic," he said, without elaborating. "What makes me angry more is on TV they showed over and over the towers falling. But this is newsworthy."

"It’s pretty convincing that that is Osama bin Laden caught in private showing a considerable amount of smugness," said Frederic Mabbatt, a retired senior member of the Foreign Service, who lives in Sun Valley.

Mabbatt, who served in Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War and in Sudan, said he was "disgusted" when he saw segments of the tape on public television and network news at his home Thursday night. "The guy’s a megalomaniac. We shouldn’t consider him a Muslim at all."

Unlike others, he did not question the tape’s veracity. And he did not question the timing of the release of the tape, which coincided with the possible surrounding of bin Laden by opposition troops in Afghanistan.

"It wouldn’t be in our best interests to do anything to deceive people," he said. "We’d be caught at it sooner or later."


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.