Osama Heard From Again?

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is seen in this image made from television aired by the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2003. The footage was made in late April or early May, the broadcaster said. The videotape also showed bin Laden walking carefully down a rocky hillside with a walking stick, wearing Afghan-style clothing AP

In a new audiotape aired Saturday, a voice purported to be Osama bin Laden vowed suicide attacks "inside and outside" the United States and threatened nations that are helping the American occupation of Iraq.

The speaker on the tape, broadcast throughout the Arab world by the Al-Jazeera television station, also warned Iraqis against cooperating with U.S. forces and urged youth in neighboring nations to join a jihad, or holy war, against the Americans.

"We reserve the right to respond at the appropriate time and place against all the countries participating in this unjust war, particularly Britain, Spain, Australia, Poland, Japan and Italy," the voice said.

"The Islamic countries who participate will not be exempt, especially the Gulf countries, most prominent among them is Kuwait, the launching base for infantry troops of the crusaders."

It was the first tape since one released on the eve of the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks — and the new message came as President Bush was on a tour of Asian nations rallying allies in the war on terrorism.

The United States is pushing more nations to send troops to Iraq to help U.S.-led forces trying to stabilize the country.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said authorities would analyze the new tape. "It is a reminder that the global war on terror continues," said McClellan, with Mr. Bush in Bangkok, Thailand, at an economic summit. "Terrorists are enemies of the civilized world who seek to spread fear and chaos and they have no regard for innocent life."

The speaker on the tape used similar language used by bin Laden in previous tapes, including Quranic verses and poems, and speaking softly. He held back a sob when he addressed the Iraqi people, telling them he shares their concerns and saluted them on their jihad.

"God knows if I could find a way to your field, I wouldn't stall," an emotional bin Laden said.

"You my brother fighters in Iraq, ... I tell you: you are God's soldiers and the arrows of Islam, and the first line of defense for this (Muslim) nation today ... so don't (fail) the Muslims today."

Bin Laden said this is his second message to the Iraqi people. In February, an audiotaped message believed to be from bin Laden's urged Iraqis to carry out suicide attacks against Americans and draw U.S. troops into combat in Iraqi cities.

The Qatar-based satellite station Al-Jazeera received the recording Saturday from a "trusted source" who called and offered the audiotape, news editor Ibrahim Hilal said.

The recording was 31 minutes but the station aired only about 17 minutes of "important material, what is newsworthy," Hilal said. The station broke up the tape into two parts, one addressed to Americans, the other to Iraqis and Arabs.

The message apparently was recorded before early September, because the speaker refers to the government of former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who resigned Sept. 6.

Al-Jazeera aired the message Saturday over a still photo of bin Laden, dressed in a robe and vest and a traditional flat Afghan cap.

In the portion addressed to Americans, the speaker said: "I tell the American people we will continue fighting you and we will continue martyrdom operations inside and outside the United States until you stop your injustice, and you end your foolishness."

Addressing U.S. troops in Iraq, the speaker said: "Your blood will be spilled so the White House gang gets richer and the arms dealers with them, as well as the large companies involved."

U.S. officials have noted that some tape releases have been preludes to attacks. In an April 7 tape, a voice thought to be bin Laden exhorted Muslims to rise up against Saudi Arabia and called for suicide attacks against U.S. and British interests. Suicide bombers struck Western housing compounds in the Saudi capital on May 12, killing 26 people.

There was no major attack, however, following the Sept. 10 message from bin Laden. In that message, al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape that contained a pair of voiceovers, one purportedly from bin Laden and the other from his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri.

The CIA said two days later that analysts believed bin Laden's voice on the tape was probably authentic.

The message aired Saturday also derided Washington's attempts to persuade other nations to send troops to Iraq.

"America is bogged down in the quagmire of the Tigris and the Euphrates (rivers)," the speaker on the tape said. "(America) is in real trouble, God willing, and is today screaming at the top of its lungs and bowing before the whole world ... and calling for help from the lowest of people."

Mr. Bush "thought that Iraq and its oil is an easy treasure," the voice said, adding that it has now "resorted to buying mercenary fighters from East and West," calling its war in Iraq a "new Crusade on the Muslim world...a decisive war for the whole nation."

There are already troops from 26 other nations in peacekeeping forces led by Britain and Poland. So far after Washington's new call for forces, Turkey and South Korea have said they would send troops.

"I call upon all Muslims, especially Iraqis. I tell them: Do not dare support the crusading American armies and those that ally with them," the speaker on the tape said. "Anyone that aids them, or whatever comes of them, no matter the label, is sacrilegious."

"You young people of Islam everywhere, especially from neighboring states, and Yemen, you have to go wage jihad (holy war) and show your muscles. Follow the right path and don't follow people who follow their whims ... who want to divert you from this blessed jihad," the speaker said.
  • Brian Dakss

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