Osama bin Laden delivers a videotaped message broadcast on Arabic language network Al-Jazrrera. An FBI report suggests the tape may have been made in Massachusetts.
A Disassociated Press Report, Boston, MA, November 1, 2004
By Eric Mader
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is most likely hiding out somewhere in the northeastern U.S. state of Massachusetts, according to a new report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The report is based on high-tech analysis of the recent video tape released by al Qaeda, in which the wanted terrorist leader threatens more attacks on America.
"It was VRE technology that allowed us to come to our conclusions," FBI technician Frank Moser said, speaking at a press conference held this morning in Boston.
VRE stands for "video resolution enhancement," a technique whereby video imagery can be clarified through digital enhancement.
Moser said the analysis proved that the video tape of bin Laden was made somewhere in Massachusetts.
"Initially we analyzed the brown fabric hanging in the background," Moser said. "From a distance it looks like a fabric commonly woven by Pashtun tribes in the north of Afghanistan and the border region with Pakistan. But resolution enhancement allowed us to see the weave. In fact the fabric is machine woven."
According to Moser, further checking showed that the fabric hanging behind bin Laden was most likely produced by an American fabric company based in California, Aladdin Fabrics. A fabric closely matching that in the video is currently sold around the U.S. under the name "Pashtun Brown."
"We have no connection with Osama bin Laden," said Jill Meyer, owner of Aladdin Fabrics. "We cannot be held responsible for who buys our products."
Moser said VRE analysis was also applied to the wooden podium behind which bin Laden stands.
"It's here that we really struck gold," he said.
On an overhead screen Moser showed an enlargement of one two-inch section from the left side of the podium. Written in black ballpoint pen one could clearly make out the words "Sox Rule."
"This graffiti is obviously a reference to the Boston Red Sox," Moser said. "The most logical conclusion is that the video was made in a Massachusetts classroom, perhaps at a university somewhere in the Boston area."
"The brown fabric was probably hung in front of a blackboard," he continued. "Bin Laden was standing at a teacher's podium. Since podiums usually aren't used in high schools or elementary schools, our best guess is a college or university."
VRE analysis also uncovered the two words "Jimmy was" on another part of the podium, apparently a graffito that was never finished.
"Perhaps a student was writing something when the teacher came in," Moser said. "And the student stopped. In any event, we do not believe that the graffiti has any direct connection to bin Laden. We're not saying by this analysis that bin Laden is a Red Sox fan, only that he is possibly somewhere in Massachusetts."
Moser said the FBI has put out an APB (All Points Bulletin) in hopes of finding the podium and thus the classroom where the video tape was made.
The news that the al Qaeda leader is possibly hiding in Massachusetts has led to renewed interest in a number of frantic calls received earlier this month by Massachusetts state police. At least three worried callers reported seeing bin Laden among the tourists taking part in one of the popular fall "leaf tours."
"At the time we thought the callers were just paranoid," said Ned Childers of the Cambridge city police department. "Now we're not so sure."
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