Taking the fat out of the fat bin Laden confession video
March 7, 2007
– For millions of people seeking the truth about September 11, 2001, the videotape released by the Department of Defense
on December 13, 2001 in which Osama bin Laden confesses to prior knowledge of 9/11 has been a powerful talking point when
making the case that the government is covering up what actually happened on that notorious day.
Many in the global movement to discover the truth about
9/11 have referred to this video as the fat bin Laden video, including yours truly. When we see frames from the video such as in Figure 1, any person with eyes can look
and see that the bin Laden in the video appears much fatter than any other known image of Osama.
|Center frame depicts an image of a person that is recognizably fatter than other bin Laden photos
However, when one or even a
few frames are taken from a 35-minute segment of video, and those selected frames exploit the least recognizable images of
bin Laden while hundreds of other frames resemble him more closely, it is a misrepresentation of the truth. Clearly, the center frame above is one of those frames in the video that least resembles Osama bin
Laden - yet has been picked and published as if the entire video reveals bin Laden in this distorted image, when it does
the image below (Figure 2) is from the same video and clearly resembles Osama bin Laden more than the center frame
referenced in Figure 1.
|Figure 2: Click on image for larger view
|Left: Suleiman Abu Ghaith, Center: Osama bin Laden, Right: Khaled Al-Harbi
|Figure 3: Chrome parts with visual gold tint
|Click on image for larger view.
have pointed to the rings seen in Figure 2 and concluded that the rings were made of gold. Since Muslim men do not wear gold rings, they do wear silver rings though, the truth seekers have
concluded that this is another clue that the Osama bin Laden in the video is an impostor. However, this conclusion that the rings are
gold rather than silver, based on the black and white frames of this video, is highly speculative.
Depending on the quality of film or video, silver or chrome often appears with a gold tint, especially when published
on the Internet. Figure 3 is a picture of chrome motorcycle parts that
clearly has a visual gold tint – but is actually bright, silver chrome. Of all the claims that this video is a
fake, I always thought the "gold ring" argument was the weakest.
Prior to being introduced
to the research of Muckraker Report contributing writer, Maher Osseiran, who is responsible for
my finally studying the entire “confession” tape for myself rather than repeating what others in the independent
media have concluded about the tape, I struggled with a conflict about the “fat bin Laden” I could not resolve. What I could not explain is the fact that if the Osama bin Laden in the video
was fake, what about everyone else in the video? How could bin Laden be an impostor
while everyone else’s identity in the video remained unchallenged? For
example, in Figure 4 we see two individuals sitting to the left of Osama bin Laden who is off screen. Their identity is clear – to the left in this frame is the paraplegic sheikh – (Saudi) Khaled
Al-Harbi and to the right in this frame is bin Laden’s number two man – (Egyptian) Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
|Figure 4: Click on image for larger view
|Left: paraplegic sheikh (Saudi) Khaled Al-Harbi, Right: Second in command (Egyptian) Ayman Al-Zawahi
In Figure 2
we see Suleiman Abu Ghaith (Kuwaiti spokesman of Al-Qaeda sitting to the right of Osama bin Laden, and (Saudi) Khaled Al-Harbi
sitting to bin Laden’s left. To the best of my knowledge, no “fat
bin Laden” supporter has challenged the identity of these individuals, which begs the question – Is it possible
that Suleiman Abu Ghaith, Khaled Al-Harbi, and Ayman Al-Zawahiri sat down for dinner with a fake bin Laden to discuss
and reminisce about the events of September 11, 2001? The answer is no.
It is not possible. Either everyone in this video is fake, or everyone
is real. We cannot cherry pick in this regard and expect to be taken seriously.
Before I tackle
the explanation of the “fat” in the video, I need to address the last clue some people have
used to fortify the perception that this video is a fake, and that is the apparent height of Osama bin Laden. Independent media outlets have pointed to how short bin Laden appears while sitting down for dinner in
the video, when compared to the others in the room. We all know that Osama bin
Laden is approximately 6 foot 6 inches tall. Figure 5 shows Osama bin Laden entering
the room. Please note how much taller he is next to the others and that he has
to duck through the doorway.
So how do we
explain those frames in the video where Osama bin Laden doesn’t really look like Osama bin Laden, but rather like a
fat impostor? We all had the “fat” part correct –clearly in
some frames bin Laden looks fatter than in others. We just missed something that
can no longer be ignored – the explanation as to why he looks fat – and its not because he’s fake.
On February 27,
2007 I received an e-mail from George Tremblay in Colorado. George has demonstrated
that he has the experience and technical expertise to make this analysis and reach the conclusions he has reached. I spoke with Mr. Tremblay on the phone today and he shared with me that prior to reading Maher Osseiran’s
work on the Muckraker Report, he was a “fat bin Laden” believer too! George
is now convinced that the Osama bin Laden in the “confession video” is absolutely Osama bin Laden. He wrote:
some of the coverage and investigation done by Maher Osseiran on the bin Laden confession tape, and his assertion that the
tape is likely actually a tape of bin Laden himself, it occurred to me that since the tape was recorded in the Pakistan region,
it was likely recorded in PAL video format. In the United States, we use the
NTSC format. The difference is primarily that the standard PAL format has the
same spatial resolution horizontally, but vertically it has a higher spatial resolution (720 x 576 for PAL – 720 x 480
for NTSC) than doe NTSC. Many PAL and NTSC converters simply eliminate the extra
horizontal lines from the PAL format in order to conform to the NTSC format. This
results in an image that appears to be ‘squashed’ along the vertical axis…making people and objects look
fatter after the conversion.
provided to him by Maher Osseiran, Tremblay suspects that a linear interpolation PAL to NTSC conversion method was used in
this instance. This method basically eliminates every fifth scan line from the PAL video, thus matching it to the number
of scan lines for the NTSC video standard (480 lines for NTSC versus 576 for PAL). Besides linear interpolation, there
are other conversion methods and software that might have been employed to accomplish the same distorted effect on the original
video. Tremblay is basing this conclusion on the following probabilities:
The video was made in Afghanistan or Pakistan and therefore was likely
shot in PAL standard format
The video that was delivered to him is now in NTSC digital format, so
at some point it was likely converted from PAL to an NTSC
If one assumes that linear interpolation was used to sample down the
PAL image to fit the NTSC format, and since scaling the vertical dimension of the video appropriately reestablishes the known
proportions of the people who are purported to appear in the video, then he personally finds that sufficient confirmation
that this process (or a similar process) was indeed applied to the original video causing it to be out of proportion in the
Basically, the reason why Osama bin Laden looks fat in the video, and in some frames particularly fat, is because
of the camera angle, shadowing and lighting, and the fact that the PAL to NTSC conversion squashed the vertical by 17 percent while the horizontal proportion
remained the same as the original.
Tremblay has provided approximately 25 corrected frames to the Muckraker Report that demonstrate clearly
that this PAL / NTSC conversion created the “fat” Osama bin Laden. The
following conversion then corrected aspect images came from the frame 50 minutes 45 seconds into the
C-SPAN video that Maher Osseiran provided.
|Figure 6: Incorrect aspect
|PAL to NTSC converter squashed vertical. Click on image for larger view.
|Figure 7: Aspect corrected.
|Vertical aspect has been corrected. Click on image for larger view.
You can learn more detail about the PAL / NTSC conversion by clicking here.
|Figure 8: Converted NTSC Aspect
|Corrected PAL Aspect
Finally, with the aspect corrected, the dimensional features of Osama bin Laden match other known images of him as
illustrated in Figure 9. The image on the right is from the C-SPAN video with
a corrected aspect. The facial features scale and align. This is Osama bin Laden.
|Side by side facial feature matching
It is Osama
bin Laden, as well as Suleiman Abu Ghaith, Khaled Al-Harbi, and Ayman Al-Zawahiri in this video. The video was most likely taped on September 26, 2001. The taping was a sting
operation that involved U.S. and Saudi and/or Pakistani intelligence – which means that the United States had Osama
bin Laden in its sights prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan but passed on capturing or killing him in favor of invading. This is paramount! If bin Laden would
have been captured or killed prior to the invasion of Afghanistan there would have no justification remaining to invade Afghanistan. If the independent media can further substantiate the actual taping date and
that the taping was indeed part of a sting operation – what we will have on our hands is a provably case of high treason
against the Bush Administration that will not be easily dismissed.
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