Reporters on the Job

Delivery after dark: Correspondent Gretchen Peters says that receiving tapes that convey Al Qaeda messages is always a cloak-and-dagger event.

The latest tape (this page) was delivered to ABC New's office in Pakistan and seen by Gretchen, who is an ABC producer, in Kabul, where she is covering upcoming elections.

Gretchen says that usually, there is a handoff after dark of the tape. "I personally never meet with these people, and my local colleagues who do meet them in a somewhat public place out of security concerns," she says. The tape was brought to Kabul by another journalist.

Certifying authenticity is always a challenge, she notes. "The problem is that anyone with some creativity and a head scarf can film a video and pretend that they're Al Qaeda," she says. In this case, she says that ABC, which has been cautious about airing previous tapes, received the tape from the same source who delivered a tape last year. ABC also has seen the person featured in the video - Azam al-Amriki - before.

"It's always a bit dodgy dealing with these people. Some people wonder if we should be putting these tapes out at all. My concern has always been that in some way, I'm helping them to relay a message to some hidden cell. Interestingly, in this video, Mr. Azam says it's ridiculous to think that they're passing messages that way - but who knows if you can believe that. But, they've tended to be upfront about what they're doing."

Amelia Newcomb
Deputy world editor

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