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In "Time,' bin Laden says he "instigated' holy war

Exiled Saudi billionaire Osama bin Laden appears to admit in a Time magazine interview that he instigated the terrorist bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

The interview seems to be the closest that bin Laden has come to admitting a role in the attacks.

Time said the interview was conducted Dec. 22 at bin Laden's secret encampment in Afghanistan. He was specifically asked if he was responsible for the embassy attacks, and he couched his response in religious references.

"If the instigation for jihad (holy war) against the Jews and the Americans is considered a crime, then let history be a witness that I am a criminal," bin Laden is quoted as saying in the Jan. 11 issue of Time. "Our job is to instigate, and by the grace of God, we did that, and certain people responded to this instigation."

On Dec. 24, a Pakistani news agency had quoted bin Laden as saying he was "not involved" in the bombing, "but I don't regret what happened there."

U.S. officials have indicted bin Laden on charges of masterminding bomb attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania Aug. 7 that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. He also is suspected in terrorist attacks on U.S. targets in Saudi Arabia and other incidents.

The United States retaliated 13 days later with cruise missile raids on bin Laden's mountain hideout in northern Afghanistan, and a plant in Khartoum, Sudan, that was suspected of making nerve gas components for bin Laden.

Asked if he knew two men in U.S. custody in connection with the bombings, bin Laden replied: "What I do know is that those who risked their lives to earn the pleasure of God are real men. They managed to rid the Islamic nation of disgrace."

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