'Osama' Urges Iraqis To Resist
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2003
"We stress the importance of suicide bombings against the enemy, these attacks that have scared Americans and Israelis like never before."
Statement allegedly from Osama bin Laden
(CBS) The al-Jazeera Arab satellite station aired a new audiotape allegedly from Osama bin Laden in which he exhorts Muslims and Iraqis to confront a possible U.S. war against their country.
In the tape, the man purported to be bin Laden says the U.S. is waging a psychological war against Iraq. He says the Iraqis should expect a massive bombardment from the air.
"Don't worry about the American lies and their smart bombs and laser ones, they look for only the clear obvious targets," he says.
He also calls on Iraqis to carry out suicide attacks against Americans.
"We stress the importance of suicide bombings against the enemy, these attacks that have scared Americans and Israelis like never before," he says.
The White House says it's too soon to say if the bin Laden tape is authentic. Now that it's been broadcast it will be subjected to analysis by government experts on voice analysis.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says authenticity is always an issue in such tapes but the contents clearly serves to help the administration make its case of ties between al Qaeda and Iraq, reports CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller.
Earlier Tuesday, Secretary of State Colin Powell told senators that the bin Laden tape would show why the world needs to be concerned about links between Iraq and terrorism.
"Once again he speaks to the people of Iraq. This nexus between terrorists and states can no longer be looked away from and ignored," Powell said, quoting "bin Laden or who we believe to be bin Laden."
Bin Laden is suspected of masterminding the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, the 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole, and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
In the wake of those attacks, President Bush vowed to get bin Laden "dead or alive," and launched military strikes on Afghanistan to try to destroy bin Laden and his network. His current whereabouts are unknown, although if he is alive, he is suspected of hiding in the lawless border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
One of the FBI's top ten wanted fugitives, bin Laden's capture would net $27 million in reward money.
Other tapes apparently featuring bin Laden's voice have surfaced since the Sept. 11 attacks, but it has often been difficult to state with certainty when the recordings were made.
As news of the tape emerged, CIA Director George Tenet and FBI director Robert Mueller were telling the Senate Intelligence Committee that al Qaeda still represented a serious threat to the United States.
Tenet warned that the terror network may have learned how to make a radiological "dirty" bomb, and could be planning an attack for sometime this week.
Late last week, the Homeland Security Department ordered the nation's terror alert status upgraded from "elevated" to "high," based on what the government claims were intercepted communications pointing to a possible imminent attack.
Britain is also on high alert, with tanks and troops protecting Heathrow Airport because of fears al Qaeda could strike. British authorities recently arrested several people who allegedly possessed the deadly poison ricin.
In his testimony last week, Powell linked an alleged al Qaeda operative, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to a supposed terrorist camp in the Kurdish-controlled area in northern Iraq.
Powell claimed Zarqawi's network was training terrorists to use poisons like ricin. The secretary of state insisted Zarqawi had links to Saddam Hussein's regime.