(1st Add: Includes comments from President Bush and Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.)
(CNSNews.com) - In a videotape aired on Al Jazeera television Friday, terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden admitted for the first time that he orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks and said "the best way to avoid another Manhattan" is to stop threatening Muslims' security, the Associated Press reports.
"We decided to destroy towers in America," bin Laden said, adding that the attack was carried out because "we are a free people ... and we want to regain the freedom of our nation."
The terrorist leader accused President Bush of "misleading" the American people for years after the Sept. 11 attacks and said the administration resembles "corrupt" Arab governments.
"Your security is not in the hands of (Democratic presidential candidate John) Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your hands," bin Laden said.
"To the U.S. people, my talk is to you about the best way to avoid another disaster," he said. "I tell you: security is an important element of human life and free people do not give up their security."
The al Qaeda leader indicated the Sept. 11 attacks were planned because they were impatient over the situation in the Middle East.
"God knows that it had not occurred to our mind to attack the towers, but after our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon, this came to my mind," bin Laden said.
"If Bush says we hate freedom, let him tell us why we didn't attack Sweden, for example. It is known that those who hate freedom do not have dignified souls, like those of the 19 blessed ones," bin Laden said, referring to the 19 hijackers.
The videotape marks the first time bin Laden has appeared on tape in more than a year. Authorities have not been able to determine when the tape was made, although it referred to the upcoming presidential elections.
Both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry responded to the tape Friday, pledging to defeat bin Laden and terrorists.
Bush said Americans "will not be intimidated or influenced by an enemy of our country." He added that "we're at war with these terrorists, and I am confident that we will prevail."
Kerry said, "As Americans, we are absolutely united in our determination to hunt down and destroy bin Laden and the terrorists."
The Democratic presidential candidate called the terrorists "barbarians," promising to "stop at absolutely nothing to hunt down, capture or kill the terrorists wherever they are, whatever it takes, period."
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