Osama Tape Rails Against Saudis

A purported Osama bin Laden audiotape posted on an Islamic Web site Thursday praised the men who attacked a U.S. consulate in Saudi Arabia earlier this month and scoffed at the Saudi regime's reform efforts.

The voice sounded like the al Qaeda terror chief's, and the tape, which was more than an hour, was posted on a site known as a clearinghouse for militant Islamic comment.

A CIA source tells CBS News that U.S. intelligence experts have confirmed "with high confidence" that the voice on the latest al Qaeda tape is that of Osama bin Laden.

The tape appeared the same day another dissident had called for anti-monarchy protests in Saudi Arabia.

Its reference to the Dec. 6 attack in which five militants shot their way into the compound of the U.S. Consulate in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, killing five non-American employees, showed that it was made recently. Four of the attackers were killed and one was wounded in the consulate attack.

"God bless our brothers who stormed the American Consulate in Jiddah," the speaker said. "Those who were killed of our brothers, we ask God to accept them as martyrs."

Also Thursday, an audiotape surfaced on the same site that was purportedly a recording of the sounds of the consulate attack transmitted via the attackers' mobile phones. Sirens, machine gun fire and shouts of "God is Great!" can be heard. At the end, a man recites Quranic verses and then says: "Humiliation for America the infidel and its allies!"

On the tape attributed to bin Laden, the speaker called for change, and derided overtures such as promised municipal elections and a national dialogue Saudi rulers recently initiated to open public debate on democratization and other issues.

"This hasn't changed anything ... the best they can do is that they will go into the elections game as happened before in Yemen and Jordan or Egypt and move in a vicious circle for dozens of years, this is regardless of the fact that it is prohibited to enter the infidel legislative councils," the speaker said.

Addressing Saudi rulers, the speaker said: "You must know that people are fed up ... security will not be able to stop them."

"Is he really out there with a significant amount of capabilities to threaten either the Saudi Arabians or the United States? And, frankly, that's just what is not known right now," said CBS News Homeland Security Consultant Randall Larsen.

Bin Laden's interest in Saudi affairs is no surprise to former CIA terrorism analyst Mike Scheuer, who headed the unit tracking bin Laden.

"Bin Laden has been a dissident within the Saudi framework since the early 1980s, so he clearly is concerned about Saudi Arabia and is trying to promote the efforts of these dissidents," Scheuer told CBS Radio affiliate WTOP in Washington.

The speaker accused all Arab leaders of being puppets of the United States, singling out, in addition to Saudi rulers, interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

The speaker, in calm and even tones, accused Saudi rulers of "violating God's rules," a common theme of bin Laden, who accuses Saudi rulers of being insufficiently Islamic and too close to the "infidel" United States.

"The sins the regime committed are great ... it practiced injustices against the people, violating their rights, humiliating their pride," the speaker said. He accused the Saudi royal family of misspending public money while "millions of people are suffering from poverty and deprivation."

The main statement was preceded by Quranic verses, a rhetorical device typical of bin Laden.

Saudi Arabia cracked down on Muslim extremists after the May 2003 bombings of three residential compounds in Riyadh brought terrorism home to the kingdom, but has not been able to stamp out the violence.

"His goal is to cause even harsher government crackdowns on the terrorist cells there and turn the people of Saudi Arabia against their own government," said Larsen. "That could cause enormous disruption in the entire Mideast if bin Laden's campaign were to prove successful."

Bin Laden, believed hiding in the mountains along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, last reached out to his followers in October, with a videotape aired on the Arabic TV station Al-Jazeera. In that statement, he for the first time clearly took responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States and said America could avoid another such strike if it stopped threatening the security of Muslims.

"I think our leaders in both political parties have overestimated the damage we've done to al Qaeda," Scheuer said. "Bin Laden runs a very sophisticated organization, just evidenced by his media machine."

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