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Questions for Osama bin Laden

(CNN) -- As you probably know by now, Al Jazeera is the Arabic-language news channel that has played such a prominent role in reporting on the U.S.-led attack on Afghanistan.

Based in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, Al Jazeera has been reporting live from inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan throughout the past week.

It has provided most of the video you have seen from inside Afghanistan. And it has been the outlet for the three video statements released last week by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

Now, someone claiming to represent al Qaeda has asked Al Jazeera and CNN to submit written questions for Osama bin Laden -- questions they say bin Laden will answer on videotape and send back to Al Jazeera. This proposal came in to Al Jazeera, which then notified CNN.

CNN has some questions we would like to put to Osama bin Laden, but first we want to be absolutely clear about this process:

-- We want to stress that CNN has no information about where bin Laden is or whether he is alive or dead.

-- We do not know how al Qaeda communicates with Al Jazeera or how Al Jazeera plans to get the questions to bin Laden.

-- We agree to no prohibitions or preconditions from Osama bin Laden's organization or from the Al Jazeera television channel.

-- By submitting our questions, we are making no commitment to air bin Laden's response. We will look at the tape, if there is a tape, and decide how much or how little to run. If we believe his comments are not newsworthy, we will not run any of them.

-- We claim no exclusivity over this tape, and we will allow other news organizations to make their own judgments on how to use bin Laden's answers.

We have submitted six questions to Al Jazeera. They are:

1. Your spokesman has praised the September 11 terrorist attacks that killed thousands of innocent people and threatened to carry out more attacks involving planes and tall buildings. How can you and your followers advocate the killing of innocent people?

2. What was your role and the role of the al Qaeda organization in the September 11 attacks?

3. What was your role and the role of your organization in the subsequent anthrax attacks in the United States?

4. Did any of the September 11 hijackers or their accomplices receive al Qaeda financial support or training at al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, and was any other government or organization involved?

5. In the past, you called on your followers to acquire weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Do you or your followers have any such weapons and, if so, will those weapons be used?

6. The vast majority of Muslim and Arab leaders, including Muslim clerics and Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat, say there is no justification in Islam for the terrorist attacks you advocate. They have denounced you, your followers, and your self-declared holy war. How do you respond to their criticism?

We have no idea if bin Laden will answer these questions, and we intend to run only what we think is newsworthy. We will report back to you as this process unfolds.


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