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Pentagon releases video of US troops interrogating bin Laden's driver

Pentagon video shows the interrogation of Osama bin Laden's driver, Salem Hamdan, in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11.

The Pentagon has released a 10-year-old video showing the interrogation of Osama bin Laden's driver, a Yemeni named Salem Hamdan.  

The video, recorded shortly after his capture in Afghanistanin 2001, shows Hamdan in a sparse room, kneeling on what appears to be a dirt floor, handcuffed with a hood over his head.   An American soldier armed with an automatic weapon removes the hood and an interrogator off camera begins to question Hamdan in Arabic.  The video include chyrons with an English translation of the exchanges.

The interrogator asks Hamdan about weapons found in his car and support for al-Qaida.  Hamdan strenuously denies knowing anything about the weapons or al-Qaida operations.  The interrogation is measured, not overly aggressive, and there are no physical signs that Hamdan had been abused or tortured.  Hamdan appears at ease, almost relaxed.  He's given permission to readjust his sitting position to be more comfortable, and at one point starts interrogating the interrogator. 


Hamdan was convicted of providing material support to al-Qaida in 2008, while a charge of conspiring with al-Qaida was dropped.  He was sentenced to 5 ½ years and released shortly thereafter because he had already spent 6 years in custody at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base detention camp in Cuba.

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Security-conscious bin Laden's methods of undetected travel revealed
Bin Laden in hiding: Hatching horrific plots despite crippling attacks on al-Qaida

Hamdan returned to Yemen and is currently appealing his conviction on the grounds the charge against him did not constitute a war crime. 

The Pentagon periodically releases transcripts and videos of evidence submitted to military commissions.  

This video was released unannounced on April 12.  Pentagon officials insist the timing of the video release had nothing to do with Saturday's rearraignment of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, at Guantanamo.

Jim Miklaszewski is NBC News' chief Pentagon correspondent.

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