New Purported Bin Laden Tape Calls for ‘Holy War’

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Al Jazeera broadcast an audiotape Sunday purportedly from Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in which he urged Muslims to continue fighting a “holy war” in Iraq and the Middle East rather than cooperate with peace efforts.

The speaker, who referred to recent events -- including the Dec. 13 capture of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein -- called on Muslims to “continue the jihad to check the conspiracies that are hatched against the Islamic nation.” He said the U.S.-led war against Iraq was the beginning of the “occupation” of Persian Gulf states for their oil.

“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 initiative dubbed the Geneva Accord was launched Dec. 1 by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. The “road map” refers to a U.S.-backed plan for a Palestinian state by 2005.

A U.S. official said the CIA would conduct a computerized voice analysis of the latest tape to determine its authenticity.

Two audiotapes attributed to top leaders of Al Qaeda surfaced in December. A recording of Ayman Zawahiri, the Egyptian-born doctor who serves as Bin Laden’s second-in-command, was judged by the CIA to be new and authentic. But a late-December audiotape of Bin Laden is thought to be a recycling of an older tape.

Ibrahim Hilal, Al Jazeera’s editor-in-chief, said the network received the message Sunday. He declined to reveal how it was delivered.

Hilal said he was certain the voice on the tape was Bin Laden’s.

“It is undoubtedly his voice, his style, and the typical examples from history he uses,” Hilal said.

The original message was 47 minutes long but the network aired only 14, Hilal said.

The speaker criticized leaders of Muslim nations for not supporting the Palestinian resistance and for refusing to pressure the United States on the Palestinian issue.


He also criticized Gulf countries for receiving members of the Iraqi Governing Council.

U.S. intelligence officials generally believe Bin Laden is alive and hiding near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.