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U.S. Says bin Laden Tape Is Real and Recent

Monday, 18 November 2002 12:00 AM

"The intelligence experts do believe that ... the tape is genuine," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "... it is clear that the tape was made in the last several weeks."

McClellan said, however, the authenticity could not be stated with "100 percent certainty."

He said President Bush had been informed of the analysis of the tape's authenticity.

Bush seemed to allude to the tape's authenticity Monday when he met with European reporters and spoke of a link between the al-Qaeda terrorist network and the insurgency in Russia's province of Chechnya.

"When Osama is praising these, the Muslim attacks in Chechnya, it's clear that there is an al-Qaeda interest," he said, an apparent reference to comments on the tape praising the hostage taking and murders in a Moscow theater last month by Chechen terrorists.

The new bin Laden tape emerged last Tuesday when it was broadcast on the pan-Arab Al Jazeera network. The tape contained apparent references to the Oct. 28 killing of a U.S. diplomat in Jordan and other recent terrorist attacks worldwide.

In December, during the U.S. assault on the al-Qaeda cave complex at Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence was reported to have intercepted a radio transmission by bin Laden, but since then there have been conflicting accounts of his fate.

Other audio and videotapes of the al-Qaeda leader have been broadcast on Al Jazeera since, but last week's tape was the first that referred to contemporary events in a way that suggests it was recorded recently.

The voice on the tape said America "has not yet learned its lesson," and issued a chilling warning to U.S. allies to prepare for the consequences of supporting Washington against al-Qaeda.

The speaker praised the bombing of a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, and the killing of a U.S. soldier in Kuwait last month, as well as recent actions in Yemen and Russia, all "warnings," he said to those backing the U.S. war against al-Qaeda.

The tape was addressed to "peoples of the countries allied with the tyrannical U.S. government" and singled out Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany, Australia and Israel, according to a U.S. government translation.

"What business do your governments have to ally themselves with the gang of criminality in the White House against Muslims? Don't your governments know that the White House gang is the biggest serial killers in this age?" the speaker asked.

A few weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which the United States blamed on bin Laden and his network, Bush implied he wanted bin Laden caught "dead or alive."

But as the campaign in Afghanistan wore on without his capture last year, U.S. officials began to stress that the campaign was not just about one man, but about breaking up al-Qaeda.

Those sentiments were echoed Monday.

"This issue is bigger than one person," Bush said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. "The war on terror is a group of fanatics."

The tape also referred to several recent terrorist attacks around the world and said they were in retaliation for Israel's policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.

"It is time we get even," says the voice. "You will be killed just as you kill, and will be bombed just as you bomb. And expect more that will further distress you."

"We have sent a warning to the Germans and the Tunisians. We sent a warning to the French in Karachi, Pakistan. In Bali, the warning was for the Australians and the British, and in Moscow, to the Russians," the voice said. "As long as our people are killed in Palestine and elsewhere, those supporting America will have to suffer as well."

Eleven German tourists were among 19 killed in the blast outside the historic Djerba synagogue in Tunisia in April. Eleven French naval officials were killed in May in Karachi when an explosion hit their bus. The blast outside a nightclub in Bali, Indonesia, on Oct. 10 killed more than 180 people, mainly Australian and British tourists.

"We decided to send a warning to the Australians because of their role in East Timor and how they arranged for it to secede from a Muslim nation, Indonesia," the tape said.

The tape said the West would continue to pay for its actions against the Muslim "world."

"You have to continue weeping and crying for your loved ones as much as our people in Palestine, Iraq and elsewhere are crying for their loved ones," the voice said. "The Muslim nation will attack you with its young and enthusiastic and will defend Islam and ummah [Islamic nation]."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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"The intelligence experts do believe that ... the tape is genuine," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "... it is clear that the tape was made in the last several weeks." McClellan said, however, the authenticity could not be stated with "100 percent...
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Monday, 18 November 2002 12:00 AM
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