Computer Expert: Bin Laden Dead, Tape Is Old Footage

Monday September 10, 2007

On Saturday morning I found a copy of the full Bin Laden (2007-09-07) video. It is 677 Megs and took over two hours to download. By Saturday evening I had finished analyzing the video, and I completed the audio analysis this morning. (There is also a 3-minute version that is the first 3 minutes from the full video.)

My findings? I strongly believe that Bin Laden is dead.

Let's see how I did on my Friday prediction...

  • "Assuming the video includes animation and not a still picture, the clips will contain splices."
    I nailed this. There are some very obvious places where the video has been spliced. Here's some examples:

    • 1:39 -- A little more than a minute and a half into the video is a splice. He goes from looking out to looking down in less than 1/25th of a second.

    • 13:13 -- The second splice. Not as big, but definitely there.

    There are actually six splices in the video as far as I can tell. In the audio track are even more splices.

    The video itself was filmed in two takes. The first section opens the video and ends at 1:56. The second section begins at 12:29 and continues until 14:01. That's right: the entire 26 minute video has less than four minutes of animated footage. The rest of the video just shows a still-frame of Bin Laden. The two sections are clearly from different recordings because the desk is closer to the camera in the second section.

    (Article continues below)

  • "The video will not contain any new content. Instead, it will contain a series of clips from old videos."
    The video shows Bin Laden in his white hat, white shirt, and yellow sweater. This is the same clothing he wore in the 2004-10-29 video. In 2004 he had it unzipped, but in 2007 he zipped up the bottom half. Besides the clothing, it appears to be the same background, same lighting, and same desk. Even the camera angle is almost identical.

    So here's my question... If you were on the run through mountains on foot, would you be carrying around unnecessary clothing? No - you would only take the essentials. A fancy shirt and yellow sweater are not essential for mountain life on the run. If, in the future, you find that you need a nice shirt and sweater, you would get new ones.

    Yet here is Bin Laden in the same clothing, same studio, same studio setup, and same desk THREE YEARS LATER. In fact, his stack of papers that he reads are moved between the exact same stacks. If you overlay the 2007 video with the 2004 video, his face has not changed in three years -- only his beard is darker and the contrast on the picture has been adjusted.

    What are the chances of nothing changing (except his beard) in three years? Virtually zero. The clips appear to have been recorded three years ago.

    The audio does make reference to relatively current events (people and places). However, these references are ONLY made during the frozen-frame portions and only after splices in the audio track. The animated portions make no references to current events.

  • "The video will probably be interspersed with footage of fighters and warriors engaged in battle."
    I missed this. Instead of fighters, they simply have a frozen-frame of him.

So how did they make the video? They took 3.5 minutes of old video and spliced in a frozen-frame with new audio. The new audio has no accompanying "live" video and consists of multiple audio recordings.

The big question is: is the audio from Bin Laden? I'm not an audio expert (yet) and since I don't know Arabic, I cannot tell if there is an accent or if the accent changes. I do know that the room echo and background sounds change during different audio clips. And there are so many splices that I cannot help but wonder if someone spliced words and phrases together. I also cannot rule out a vocal imitator during the frozen-frame audio. The only way to prove that the audio is really Bin Laden is to see him talking in the video, but all references to current-events come during the frozen-frame section.

So is Bin Laden still alive? I see no proof of his existance that is newer than three years ago. Bin Laden is as alive as Elvis.
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