CAIRO — An audio recording attributed to Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden offered rewards in gold Thursday for the killing of top U.S. and U.N. officials in Iraq or of the citizens of any nation fighting there.
The 20-minute recording, dated Thursday, appeared on two websites known for militant Islamic messages. The voice sounded like that of Bin Laden and the words were filled with Koranic verse, but the authenticity of the recording could not immediately be verified.
"We in Al Qaeda organization will guarantee, God willing, 10,000 grams of gold to whomever kills the occupier Bremer, or the American chief commander or his deputy in Iraq," the voice said.
He was referring to L. Paul Bremer III, the chief U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, and top military officials.
The United States has offered rewards of its own for information leading to the capture or death of Bin Laden and his top lieutenants, as well as for top figures in the former Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein. The price on Bin Laden's head stands at $50 million -- far more than the nearly $125,000 that 10,000 grams of gold is worth.
The recording promised the same gold reward for the deaths of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi.
The speaker promised 1,000 grams of gold to anyone killing a citizen of countries he called "the masters of the veto like Americans and Britons" -- a reference to nations with veto power on the United Nations Security Council.
And he offered 500 grams of gold to anyone killing citizens of countries he called "slaves of the Security Council who are in Iraq, like Japan and Italy." The context indicated that the rewards applied to citizens of those countries who are in Iraq.