CIA: Latest bin Laden tape likely authentic
From David Ensor
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The latest audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden likely featured the voice of the al Qaeda leader, a CIA spokesman said Monday.
The spokesman said CIA officials believe the tape was recorded in the last six months, citing "specific references to recent events." Among those was the mention of former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who resigned in September.
The tape aired Saturday on the Qatar-based, Arabic-language TV news channel Al-Jazeera. The recording threatened to launch suicide attacks against the United States and any countries that help it in Iraq.
A CNN translation of the messages -- one addressed to Iraqis and Arab Muslims, the other to Americans -- feature a man claiming to be the al Qaeda leader discussing suicide attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and against the American-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.
The tape's speaker also gave specific figures for the U.S. economy, saying the country is facing a deficit of more than $450 billion. The United States announced an expected $455 billion budget deficit in the current fiscal year July 15.
The voice also referred to Abbas as though he were still Palestinian prime minister. Abbas resigned the post September 6.
Regarding the tape, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, "It is a reminder the global war on terrorism continues and the enemy has no regard for innocent life."
Last month, Al-Jazeera broadcast an audio message that the CIA later said was most likely bin Laden's voice. The broadcast included video of him and another al Qaeda leader walking in a mountainous area. (Full story)
The most recent message threatened suicide attacks against Americans in and outside the United States. It called on Americans to reject President Bush's "aggression" against Iraq, which the speaker called part of a Jewish plot "against our religion and our people."
"Most of you are a mob with no trace of good morals," the speaker said, addressing Americans. "We will continue to fight you as long as we have weapons in our hands."
A Department of Homeland Security statement said the messages emphasize that the United States remains al Qaeda's first target.
Tape says U.S. is on 'a crusader's war'
Saturday's message continued with threats to U.S. allies.
"Let the transgressors know that we reserve our right in responding when and where we see appropriate against all the countries that participate in this unjust war [in Iraq] -- especially Britain, Spain, Australia, Poland, Japan and Italy," the speaker said. "Not to be excluded those Muslim countries that participate, especially the countries of the [Persian] Gulf and Kuwait."
The second message -- directed to Iraqis and Arab Muslims worldwide -- called the U.S.-led effort in Iraq "a crusader's war" and issued a rallying cry for Muslims to launch jihad operations against the United States and its allies.
"The Romans have gathered under the banner of the cross to fight the nation of the prophet Muhammad -- so take up jihad," the tape's speaker said.
"You have no reward but in jihad," the voice added, calling those who support the United States "infidels and heretics."
"Know that this war is a new crusading campaign against the Islamic world, and this is a very critical war to the nation as a whole, because it has dangerous ramifications and consequences impacting Islam and its people -- to an extent that Allah only knows."
The speaker also called on Muslims to fight those in their midst who support the building of a democratic, representative government in Iraq.
"There have been new voices, similar to those before them in Palestine, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen, that are calling for a democratic and peaceful solution to the problem of dealing with infidel governments, or dealing with invaders whether they are Jews or Christians -- and that is as an alternative to fighting in the way of Allah. Therefore it is imperative that we briefly warn you against the danger of this deviant methodology, which is in violation of the way of Allah."
The tape accused Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Abbas of operating treasonous "puppet governments ... set up to sabotage jihad."
Calling on Muslims to continue "martyrdom" operations against "infidels and crusaders," the speaker said, "to my mujahedeen brothers in Iraq ... only Allah knows that if I had found a way to your battlefield, I would not stay behind."