CAIRO -- The Al-Jazeera satellite channel broadcast an audiotape yesterday 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 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 US-led war against Iraq was the beginning of the "occupation" of 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.
The tape's authenticity could not immediately be verified. Al-Jazeera played it while showing a still photo of bin Laden against a dark blue background. "The CIA and appropriate intelligence authorities are reviewing the tape to check for its authenticity," Allen Abney, a White House spokesman, said yesterday.
Ibrahim Hilal, Al-Jazeera's editor in chief, said the network received the message yesterday and aired 14 of its 47 minutes.
In those excerpts, the speaker urged Muslims to "liberate the Islamic world from the military occupation of the crusaders." The speaker criticized leaders of Muslim nations for refusing to pressure the United States on the Palestinian issue and for not supporting the Palestinian resistance.
He also criticized Gulf countries for receiving members of the Iraqi Governing Council.
"The deterioration of the situation of Arabs and Muslims is in ignoring Islam as a basic program for rule," the speaker said while calling for establishing a council to replace the Arab rulers and unify Arab positions.