KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - In his first public appearance since rushing back to Afghanistan from the United Nations after a suicide bomber killed the country's leading peace broker, President Hamid Karzai said Thursday that the Taliban had gained access to their target by wooing senior leaders with an audio CD suggesting peace was within reach.

Karzai's statement and an account from a former Taliban member who brought the bomber to Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former Afghan president who led the country's High Peace Council, painted a picture of a complex plot that unfolded over four months

The recording was part of what appears to be a meticulously orchestrated ruse planned by the Taliban to place an assassin in a room with Rabbani. His killing Tuesday struck a body blow to the peace process.

Karzai said the suicide bomber who killed Rabbani had given Afghan officials a CD in which a Taliban official lauded Rabbani as a "dear" and "respected" teacher. "We mistook it as a peace message," Karzai said.

At a separate news conference, Rahmatullah Wahidyar, the member of the Peace Council who introduced the bomber to Rabbani, echoed Karzai's account, indicating that he, too, had been duped. The blast disabled his arm, he said, and left him deaf in one ear.