Nothing new in bin Ladin message

An audiotape purporting to contain an original message from al-Qaida leader Usama bin Ladin is actually more than two months old and has already been aired.

    The 'latest' audiotape from bin Ladin is at least two months old

    The Dubai-based al-Arabiya channel on Saturday broadcast the tape in which bin Ladin condemns the US-led invasion of Iraq as "a new crusade" against Muslims.

    But Aljazeera has revealed the tape is the same one it had aired more extensively on 18 October.

    Aljazeera has released a statement, along with a transcript of the tape, in which the Qatar-based satellite channel says it broadcast the recording in the form of "messages" from bin Ladin to the Iraqi and American people.

    Dubai-based al-Arabiya, which did not mention when the tape was made, has yet to respond to Aljazeera's statement.

    In Washington, however, the US intelligence agency, the CIA, concurs that the tape is old. A CIA official said the tape contained "the same audio" that had previously been broadcast.

    Excerpts aired by al-Arabiya did not include remarks in which bin Ladin threatened to send bombers to the US and to attack any troops joining the US-led military forces in Iraq.

    Deputy's message

    The audiotape controversy came a

    day after Aljazeera broadcast a tape purportedly from al-Qaida's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri.

    Al-Zawahiri describes American 
    soldiers as weak cowards 

    The CIA has confirmed that the voice purporting to be the al-Qaida deputy was "most likely"

    al-Zawahri.

    In the audio message, al-Zawahri said al-Qaida was pursuing Americans everywhere, but especially "in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Palestine and in the Arab peninsula".

    The tape is believed to have been recorded in November, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. It marks the second anniversary of the battle of Tora Bora, when US-led forces in Afghanistan sought to wipe out al-Qaida chief bin Ladin and other leaders of the group.

    "Two years after Tora Bora... we continue to pursue the Americans everywhere," the voice said. "The Americans have become weaker in Iraq. Their soldiers are cowards because they have no faith in their leaders."

    America 'defeated'

    Al-Zawahri went on to say: "America has been defeated (by) our fighters despite all its military might, its weaponry."

    In an apparent reference to an attack on a Baghdad hotel in October, al-Zawahri said: "Americans have become unable to defend themselves and even to protect their biggest criminals and leaders such as (Deputy Defence Secretary Paul) Wolfowitz."

    He also threatened Arab countries that provided "bases and help" to US forces to fight Muslims to be ready for "judgment day", saying the United States was getting ready to withdraw from the region.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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