The White House countered a threatening message from Osama bin Laden on
Saturday by accusing the al-Qaida leader of using the media to justify violence
that is stalling the new Iraqi government's work to mend sectarian strife.
bin Laden speaks in this 1998 file photo at a meeting at an undisclosed
location in Afghanistan. Bin Laden urged Iraqi militants in an Internet
message Saturday July 1, 2006 to continue fighting the US-led coalition
in Baghdad, or else 'all the capitals in the region will fall to the
crusaders.' The message also endorsed Abu Hamza al-Muhajer as the new
leader for his terror network al-Qaida in Iraq, succeeding Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi, who was killed last month in a US airstrike.
In an Internet posting Saturday, bin Laden endorsed a new leader of al-Qaida
in Iraq and warned Shiites there against collaborating with the United States in
battling Sunni insurgents.
"These terrorists offer nothing in their ideology and messages beyond future
fighting, conflict and misery," the Bush administration said in a statement read
by a White House official.
The official said the United States was analyzing the contents of the message
and working to determine the authenticity of the recording, which was not
"If authentic, the tape demonstrates yet again that bin Laden and al-Qaida
continue to use the media to justify their dark vision and war against
humanity," the statement said.
It was bin Laden's fifth audio message so far this year and his second in two
The White House offhandedly dismissed bin Laden's message on Friday. "It's
another bin Laden audio tape," White House press secretary Tony Snow told
reporters. "It is what it is."
Saturday's 19-minute recording from bin Laden came as Iraqi Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, started a regional tour seeking support from Sunni
Arab countries for his national reconciliation plan. The plan contains a
conditional amnesty for insurgents, but not members of al-Qaida.
"The Iraqi people and the international community will continue to tell these
enemies of humanity that their dark vision and atrocities are unwelcome
interventions," the White House said. "The Iraqi people are taking hold of their
future and it is one of freedom and prosperity."
Bin Laden gave his support to Abu Hamza al-Muhajer, the replacement for Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US airstrike June 7. In an attempt to
boost the morale of al-Qaida members in Iraq, bin Laden said that the Islamic
community was depending on them.
"Stay steadfast and don't leave Baghdad, otherwise all the capitals in the
region will fall to the crusaders," he said, referring to the US-led
Bin Laden also warned nations not to send troops to Somalia, where Islamic
militants have taken over control of the capital and much of the southern part
of the country.
Bush expressed concern last month that Somalia could
become a haven for al-Qaida members like Afghanistan was in the late 1990s. The
US has accused the Islamic militants of harboring al-Qaida leaders responsible
for the deadly 1998 bombings at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.