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Purported Qaeda tape urges muslims to fight U.S.
( 2003-08-19 08:39) (Agencies)

Al Arabiya television aired on Monday an audio tape it said was from an al Qaeda spokesman saying Osama bin Laden and Taliban chief Mullah Omar were alive and urging Muslims to fight a holy war against U.S. troops in Iraq.

The Arabic television channel attributed the recording to Afghan-based al Qaeda official Abdel Rahman al-Najdi, who it said was on a U.S. list of wanted al Qaeda members.

"I would like to bring the good tidings to Muslims everywhere that Sheikh Osama bin Laden is well, very well and that Mullah Omar is also alive," the voice on the recording said, referring respectively to the al Qaeda chief and Taliban leader who was ousted in a 2001 U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the tape or the identity of the speaker.

A U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation official said Abdel Rahman al-Najdi was not on their list of most wanted.

But a U.S. official, who declined to be identified, said Najdi was known to U.S. authorities and described him as a propagandist trying to "boost morale" among members of al Qaeda.

"He is someone we're certainly aware of," said the official. "He is prone to making outrageous statements, including wildly overstating al Qaeda capabilities and successes. This is clearly an attempt to boost morale among al Qaeda rank and file."

The tape praised and urged Muslims to continue their resistance against U.S. troops in Iraq, saying: "The Americans are begging the world to stand by their side in Iraq.

"I would also like to congratulate our brothers in Iraq for their valiant struggle against the occupation, which we support and urge them to continue," it added.


The U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, said he was not surprised that al Qaeda would issue such calls, but added he was waiting for verification of the authenticity of the tape.

"I don't have any reaction to these tapes until I see a chance from our intelligence agencies to analyze the tapes and tell us what they make of their authenticity," he said.

"We should not be too surprised if al Qaeda should call on the people of Iraq to rise up. We have had a terrorist threat here. We have terrorists operating here. We even have some al Qaeda here," he told CNN on Monday.

The speaker on the tape, which was aired on Sunday and rebroadcast on Monday, called on Iraqis to remain steadfast in their struggle against occupying forces in Iraq.

"To our brothers in struggle in Iraq: The whole world has witnessed the collapse of the regime in Iraq and your steadfastness and victory against the invading U.S. and British troops.

"The group of believers carrying Jihad in the name of God planted fear and terror in the hearts of the Americans, who have violated all international laws and human conventions."

Saudi-born bin Laden and Mullah Omar have been at large since the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Bin Laden and his deputies made several video appearances in 2001. An audio tape purportedly made by the Qaeda leader was broadcast on an Islamist Web site in February 2003.

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