Annan vows to 'carry on' despite bin Laden threat
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday that he is taking the latest threat from Osama bin Laden seriously.
An audiotape believed to be from the al Qaeda leader offered a bounty in gold for the deaths of Annan, Iraq envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, U.S. civilian administrator L. Paul Bremer and others.
"That's what we are going to do," Annan said.
Annan has been threatened before by the elusive global terrorist, but a price was never placed on his head. The "prize" is 10 kilograms of gold (about 22 pounds), worth about $125,000.
The message denounces U.N. efforts, led by Brahimi, to organize the transfer of power from the coalition provisional authority to an interim Iraqi government June 30, and calls the United Nations "a Zionists' tool."
The voice on the 20-minute audiotape, reviewed by CNN, appears to be that of bin Laden. But the speaker's identity has not been confirmed by intelligence officials.
If the message is indeed from bin Laden, it would mark a new tactic for the al Qaeda leader -- offering a financial reward for killing specific officials.
The message suggested that the bounties were being offered in response to rewards the United States has offered for wanted figures in Afghanistan and Iraq, including bin Laden.
Those rewards go up to $25 million.
"You know that America promised big rewards for those who kill mujahedeen," the message said. "We in the al Qaeda organization will guarantee, God willing, 10,000 grams of gold to whoever kills the occupier, Bremer, or the American chief commander or his deputy in Iraq."
The message calls the handover of power to the Iraqis an "overt trick to anesthetize the people and abort the military resistance."
In response to the tape, a U.N. spokesman said, "We're taking this seriously. In consultations with [the United States], we are taking additional measures regarding the secretary-general's security."
The message said that those who die while killing coalition soldiers in Iraq, "the great prize will be for us and for him when God grants him martyrdom."
Bin Laden was last heard from in April.
In that audiotape, the speaker offered a "truce" or "nonaggression" to any European country that stops "attacking Muslims" but excludes the United States from any such deal.
The speaker gave a three-month deadline, starting April 15, for countries to stop "attacking Muslims." He mentioned Iraq but not in the specific context of the U.S.-led war.
European politicians immediately ruled out negotiating with bin Laden.
The CIA -- after evaluating the previous tape -- said that though it was impossible to be absolutely sure the voice on the tape was bin Laden's, it most likely was.
In the April tape, the speaker also threatened revenge on the United States for the death of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was killed March 22 in an Israeli targeted helicopter attack in Gaza City.
He also referred to the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the Madrid train bombings of March 11 as examples of actions al Qaeda had taken in response to what he called attacks on Muslims.