Bin Laden video praises killing of US troops


Washington : A speaker identified as Osama bin Laden praises militants who kill US soldiers in Iraq and urges the world to embrace Islam in what appeared to be the Al Qaeda leader’s first video message in three years, US media reported.

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In a taunt to US President George W Bush, bin Laden’s purported message emerged days before the anniversary of the Sep 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, which killed almost 3,000 people.

Initial analysis of the video “suggests that the voice is indeed that of Osama bin Laden”, said a US intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

References to recent US politics, new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy and last month’s anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima indicated that the message may be from this summer, according to a transcript obtained by US television networks Friday.

Bush Saturday said the video showed that the terrorist group wants to establish a safe haven in Iraq and that its served as a reminder that the international community must remain committed to the war on terrorism.

“I found it interesting that on the tape Iraq was mentioned which is a reminder that Iraq is a part of this war against extremists,” Bush said after a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) world leaders’ summit in Sydney.

“If Al Qaeda bothers to mention Iraq, its because they want to achieve their objectives in Iraq, which is to drive us out and to develop a safe haven,” Bush said. “And the reason they want a safe haven is to launch attacks against America, or any other ally.”

If the man on the tape is bin Laden, he seemed to have cropped his once-grey beard and dyed it black. US intelligence officials were analysing the video for authenticity and content.

While making no specific threat, the speaker says one way for “our side” to force a US retreat from Iraq is “to continue to escalate the fighting and killing against you”. He also praises the 19 hijackers who flew the Sep 11 suicide jetliners.

He blames big corporations for global warming, muses about why the US Democratic Party has failed to stop the war in Iraq and predicts the collapse of the “American empire”.

He urges Americans to convert to Islam if they want to “achieve your desire to end the war”.

“To conclude, I invite you to embrace Islam, for the greatest mistake one can make in the world and one that is uncorrectable is to die while not surrendering to Allah, the Most High, in all aspects of one’s life – i.e., do die outside of Islam,” the transcript said.

A Washington firm that monitors Al Qaeda messages on the Internet, SITE Intelligence Group, said the video was meant to mark six years since the Sep 11 attacks.

It would be bin Laden’s first video message since Oct 29, 2004, when he claimed responsibility for the attacks on New York and Washington and warned of further strikes. He aired four audio messages between January and July 2006.

The US Homeland Security Department had said Thursday, when news of the video emerged, that there was “no credible information” about any planned terrorist strike against the US.

In the past, messages from Al Qaeda’s media wing al-Sahab on the anniversary of the attacks have included a video each year in which they show the final words of one of the attackers.

US intelligence suspects bin Laden is still hiding in mountainous terrain along the Afghan-Pakistani border.