|A voice on a new tape, possibly Bin Laden’s, calls for “prompt action” for Pakistan flood victims [Gallo/Getty]
Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaeda network, has expressed concern about global climate change and the recent flooding in Pakistan, in an audiotape posted on the internet, which would be his first public remarks in six months, a monitoring group has said.
“The number of victims caused by climate change is very big… bigger than the victims of wars,” said the voice, whose authenticity could not be immediately verified and was made available by SITE Intelligence Group, which released the recording on Friday.
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The tape would be the first time Bin Laden has spoken publicly since March 25.
It was not clear when the tape was made, but Bin Laden congratulated Muslims on the holy fasting month of Ramadan which ended on September 10.
“The catastrophe [in Pakistan] is very big and it is difficult to describe it,” he said.
Bin Laden made a series of recommendations to deal with climate change, namely preventive measures that he said should be taken by governments in the face of disasters.
“Providing tents, food and medicine is a duty… but the disasters [facing many Muslim countries] are much bigger than what is being offered.
“Action should not be confined to providing emergency aid… but to set up a capable relief task force that has the knowledge and experience needed” to meet the challenges.
One of them, Bin Laden said, is “setting up studies of urban areas that lie by rivers and valleys in the Muslim world,” pointing to floods that hit the Saudi city of Jeddah earlier this year.
He also called for a review of security guidelines concerning dams and bridges in Muslim nations and said more should be done to invest in agriculture to guarantee food security for all.
“Investment in agriculture needs a lot of efforts and yields small gains. The issue today is not about gains or losses, but about life or death.”
In one of two tapes issued in January, Bin Laden blamed major industrial nations for climate change, a statement the US state department said showed that he was struggling to stay relevant.
In his most recent remarks, he warned that Al-Qaeda would kill Americans if the alleged mastermind of the 2001 attacks on the United States, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, was executed.
Plans to send Mohammed to trial just steps away from his alleged crime scene in New York had to be put on hold after a furious public backlash over potential costs and security threats.
In another statement in January, Bin Laden claimed responsibility for the botched Christmas Day bombing attempt of a US airliner, vowing further strikes on American targets.
Bin Laden also referred to US support for Israel in the January message.
“God willing, our attacks against you will continue as long as you maintain your support to Israel,” he said.
Bin Laden’s whereabouts are unknown, but in August, General David Petraeus, the US commander in Afghanistan, said bin Laden is “far buried” in the remote mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan
and that capturing him remains a key task.