Purported Osama Tape Surfaces

Osama Bin Laden audio tape
In an audiotape aired Sunday on Al-Jazeera satellite channel, a voice purported to be al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden urged Muslims to continue fighting a jihad, or holy war, rather than cooperating with Mideast peace efforts.

The speaker, who referred to recent events, called on Muslims to "continue the jihad to check the conspiracies that are hatched against the Islamic nation."

Al-Jazeera played the tape while showing a still photo of bin Laden against a dark blue background.

The length of the tape was not known, as the station played excerpts and summarized other points made by the speaker.

"My message is to incite you against the conspiracies, especially those uncovered by the occupation of the crusaders in Baghdad under the pretext of weapons of mass destruction, and also the situation in (Jerusalem) under the deceptions of the road map and the Geneva initiative," the speaker said.

A Mideast peace plan dubbed the Geneva Accord was launched Dec. 1 by Italian and Palestinian negotiators. The road map refers to a U.S.-backed plan for a Palestinian state.

"We have to liberate the Islamic world from the military occupation of the Crusaders by raising up the banner of jihad for God's sake," the speaker said.

He called the Middle East issues part of a religious and economic war, saying the "big powers" were trying to control the region for its oil.

"The occupation of Iraq is the beginning of the full occupation of the other Gulf states. ... The Gulf is the key for control of the world in the point of view of the big powers because of the presence of the biggest deposits of oil."

The last audiotape purported to be bin Laden was broadcast by Al-Jazeera last October. CIA analysts who examined that tape concluded it was probably authentic.