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Al-Qaeda threatens attacks on Americans "everywhere"
( 2003-09-08 09:50) (Agencies)

A audiotape allegedly released by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda group on Sunday vowed attacks on Americans "everywhere" and so devastating that Washington would forget the horror of the September 11 suicide hijackings.

The tape, dated September 3, came a few days before the second anniversary of the September 2001 attacks on U.S. cities - blamed on al-Qaeda. Washington said last week it was on alert for possible attacks by the militant group.

"We announce there will be new attacks inside and outside which would make America forget the attacks of September 11 (2001)," an al-Qaeda spokesman said in the tape broadcast by the Arabic television channel Al Arabiya.

He identified himself as Abu Abdel-Rahman al-Najdi. The television showed a still photo of a bearded militant wearing a head-dress as it played the tape. There was no immediate independent verification of the identity of the speaker.

"We assure the Muslims that al-Qaeda ranks have doubled... Our casualties are nothing compared to our (good) conditions now. Our coming martyrdom operations will prove to you what we are saying," he added.

Al-Qaeda has issued five other audio-tapes this year threatening action against the United States. Bin Laden and his deputies also made several video appearances in 2001.

The speaker denied any links to the killing of leading Shi'ite Muslim cleric Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim in a car bomb attack in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf last month.

Some U.S. and Iraqi reports suggested that al-Qaeda was behind the car bomb attack that killed Hakim and 82 others.

"We strongly deny that al-Qaeda had any hand in this bombing which killed Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim, violated the sanctity of one of God's houses and killed innocent people."


"Our highest aim is to fight the Americans and kill them everywhere on earth and drive them out of Palestine, the Arabian peninsula and Iraq."

The speaker accused Washington and Israel of orchestrating the killing because, he said, they feared the cleric's links to Iran would boost the Islamic Republic's influence in the area.

"We have no motives. Those who killed Baqer al-Hakim are the Americans and Jews. They wanted to get rid of him because they know that his loyalty is to Iran," he added.

Another motive behind the assassination, he added, was to incite Shi'ite-Sunni strife and turn the Shi'ites, who form 60 percent of Iraq's population, against the austere Sunni-dominated al-Qaeda.

He also said U.S. losses in Afghanistan were much higher than that announced by Washington.

Washington says just over 180 soldiers have been killed in fighting since the U.S.-led assault on Iraq began in March, including almost 70 killed since President Bush declared major combat over on May 1.

The al-Qaeda spokesman said that ousted Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and bin Laden were alive and leading the battle against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

He urged Muslims to fight the Jihad (holy struggle) against U.S. forces. "God has opened the doors of Jihad in Iraq and Palestine so do not close them..."

FBI and Homeland Security officials warned last week the United States faces threat of attack from al-Qaeda, saying it still targets Americans and has a presence in U.S. cities two years after the September 11 attacks that killed about 3,000 people.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an advisory saying it remained concerned about al-Qaeda's "continued efforts to plan multiple attacks against the U.S. and U.S. interests overseas."

But the advisory, based on a review of intelligence ahead of the two-year anniversary of the attacks, said the department had no specific data on individual targets or dates for any attacks.

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