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Purported bin Laden message to Europe: Leave Afghanistan

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  • NEW: Counterterrorism official says analysis indicates voice is indeed bin Laden
  • NEW: Message refers to events that occurred in May, June
  • Audiotape: "You ... attacked and killed women and children on purpose"
  • Alleged bin Laden message calls on Europeans to leave Afghanistan

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(CNN) -- An audio recording attributed to Osama bin Laden called on Europeans to abandon Afghanistan and accused NATO troops of killing women and children there.

A video released by al Qaeda in September shows Osama bin Laden speaking.

The message surfaced on Al Jazeera television Thursday, three days after al Qaeda's TV production unit promised fresh communication from the world's most-wanted terrorist leader.

"In this war, you didn't respect the rules of war," the speaker says. "The majority of the victims of your bombardments were women and children. You targeted them and killed them on purpose. You knew very well that our women don't fight, but you targeted them even at weddings. Your purpose is to demoralize the mujahedeen, but this will do you no good."

A U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN an intelligence community analysis indicates the voice is that of the Saudi exile, and that the message appears to contain no specific, credible threat.

CNN could not immediately verify the authenticity of the tape. It includes references to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who took office in June, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was elected in May. Video Watch what experts make of the new message »

The speaker also repeats his claim of sole responsibility for the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, which killed nearly 3,000 people. He says Afghanistan's Taliban militia, which allowed al Qaeda to operate from the territory it controlled, had no advance knowledge of the plot.

"I assure you that all the Afghans, government and people, were not at all aware of any of these events. America is well aware of this fact. Some of the Taliban ministers fell captive in their hands, they were interrogated and they told the Americans the truth," he says.

Al Jazeera ran three excerpts from the message, and the full length of the statement was not immediately known.

Bin Laden and Taliban leader Mohammed Omar escaped the U.S. invasion in 2001, and bin Laden was last thought to be hiding in the rugged mountains along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

U.S. and allied troops have spent six years battling remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban, with about 41,000 troops from the United States, NATO and other countries taking part in the fighting. Afghanistan is the largest ground operation in NATO's nearly 60-year history.

The speaker tells the allies that the American deployment will soon be withdrawn "by the blessing of God."

"They will go back to their homelands beyond the Atlantic, and they will leave the neighbors to finish off their interests among themselves," he says.

"It is better for you to address these issues with your politicians who are begging at the doorsteps of the White House, and work hard on lifting the injustice on the oppressed. Justice is the right thing to do; injustice is suffering."

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the tape sounded like old news.

He said Afghan children are receiving medical care and vaccinations that they would not have received before the ouster of the Taliban, but "there is a lot more work to be done."

"It's going to require a sustained commitment over a period of time, and we have seen that kind of commitment from our European allies," McCormack said. He added, "I see no diminution in that level of commitment."


The last message believed to be from bin Laden, released in October, urged Islamic jihadists loyal to al Qaeda in Iraq to join forces and remain loyal to the Islamic nation.

A September statement called on followers to launch a holy war against Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who has launched a crackdown on Islamic militants in the border region since the collapse of a 2006 truce. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Octavia Nasr and Pam Benson contributed to this report.

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