Sunday, 16 February, 2003, 12:34 GMT
'Bin Laden' tape attacks 'crusaders'
A new audio tape said to be from Osama Bin Laden accuses the United States of plotting to carve up Muslim countries in the Middle East to benefit Israel.
The message urges Muslims to "fight the enemy that sabotages the world," describing jihad, or holy war, as "a necessity".
Excerpts of the 53-minute recording were published on Sunday by the Saudi-owned Al Hayat newspaper. It is not clear where or when the recording was made.
If authenticated, it would be the most recent of a series of anti-US messages attributed to the fugitive al-Qaeda leader, blamed for the 11 September 2001 terror attacks on the United States.
The message says a US-led war on Iraq "will only be a stage in a series of planned attacks targeting other countries, including Syria, Iran, Egypt and Sudan".
The message denounces US President George Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as "crusaders trying to destroy the Islamic nation".
US policy is aimed at the creation of a "Greater Israel" in the region, the message says.
This would include inside its borders "large parts of Iraq and Egypt along with Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the whole of Palestine, as well as part of the land of the holy mosques (Saudi Arabia)," the message said.
The message appears to be the same as that released by a UK-based Islamic website, Waaqiah, on Friday.
Al Hayat said the new recording could be found on the Islamist "Jihad Forum" website at www.arabforum.net, and was timed to coincide with the three-day Eid al-Adha festival, which ended on Thursday.
Last week, US intelligence experts said technical analysis of another audio tape aired on the al-Jazeera satellite TV network showed "almost certainly" that it came from Bin Laden.
The 16-minute message, broadcast on al-Jazeera on Tuesday, called for suicide attacks against the US and resistance to any attack on Iraq.
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