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THE WORLD

Alleged Bin Laden Tape Issues Threats

The voice on the audiotape, which could be weeks old, tells Iraqis not to aid Americans.

October 19, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

WASHINGTON — In a new audiotape broadcast Saturday, a voice purported to be that of Osama bin Laden warns Iraqis to stop cooperating with the U.S. occupation and threatens new suicide attacks on the United States and its allies.

U.S. intelligence officials were analyzing the tape aired on the Al Jazeera TV network to determine whether the voice is that of Bin Laden. They said it could take several days to resolve the tape's authenticity.

On Sept. 10, Al Jazeera broadcast a videotaped image of Bin Laden walking with his top deputy in the Al Qaeda terrorist network, Ayman Zawahiri, and audio messages from the two men. The CIA later said it believed both voices were authentic.

In the latest message, which Al Jazeera said it received Saturday from a "trusted source," the speaker said the United States is in a "quagmire" in Iraq and called on Muslim youth everywhere to wage jihad to drive out the "crusader U.S. forces."

"Let the unjust know we have the right to respond at any suitable time and place to all who participate in this cruel war -- Britain, Spain, Australia, Poland, Japan, Italy and Muslim states, and especially Kuwait and other [Persian] Gulf states," the speaker said.

Reacting to the tape, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "This is a reminder that the global war on terror continues. Terrorists are enemies of the civilized world who seek to spread fear and chaos. They have no regard for innocent life."

McClellan, who was accompanying President Bush to an Asia Pacific summit in Bangkok, Thailand, added, "That's why we are taking the fight to the killers."

The Department of Homeland Security also issued a statement Saturday, saying, "The recent Al Qaeda tape continues to emphasize that the United States remains their No. 1 target."

The audio recording was 31 minutes long, but Al Jazeera said it aired only about 17 minutes it deemed newsworthy. The message was divided into two parts, one specifically addressed to Americans, the other to "our Muslim brothers in Iraq."

"O Americans ... you are mostly a nation of unmannered cowboys who elect boorish liars and are ruled by whoever has the most wealth and influence, especially the Jews," the speaker said. He went on to attack "the Zionist lobby" and to tell American soldiers in Iraq, "Your presence on Iraqi soil is a deliberate injustice and a grave foolishness, and you are dying so that others may live and profit.

"We ... will continue to fight you and will continue martyrdom operations inside and outside the United States until you abandon your oppression," the speaker said.

The message derided Washington's attempts to persuade other nations to send troops to Iraq to help U.S.-led forces trying to stabilize the nation. There are already troops from 26 other nations in peacekeeping forces led by Britain and Poland. Turkey and South Korea have said they would send troops, but the Iraqi Governing Council has objected to a Turkish force.

The speaker urged all Muslims, and Iraqis in particular, not to "support the crusader U.S. forces and their allies."

"Any government set up by Americans is an agent and traitor like all regional governments," the speaker said. "Jihad must continue until there is an Islamic government."

The tape also makes reference to former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who took office April 29 and resigned Sept. 6, as though Abbas were currently serving, according to media reports.

Analysts believe that several weeks might have elapsed from the time the tape was recorded, then ferried by couriers from Bin Laden' s hide-out -- reputed to be in the tribal areas along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan -- until it was delivered to Al Jazeera, which is based in Qatar.

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