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Bin Laden warns US its end is imminent
Osama bin Laden warns the United States in his latest video message that it will soon collapse, regardless of whether he lives or dies, as Muslims around the world ``awaken to its tyranny.''
Qatar's al-Jazeera television broadcast the full tape on Thursday, after airing excerpts on Wednesday. In it, the world's most wanted man described the September 11 attacks as ''blessed'' and urged Muslims to wage ``military and economic'' jihad, or holy war, against a ``fragile'' America.
``We say that the end of the United States is imminent, whether bin Laden or his followers are alive or dead, for the awakening of the Muslim umma (nation) has occurred,'' he said.
``It is very important to concentrate on hitting the American economy with every available tool... the economy is the base of its military power,'' he explained. ``The United States is a great economy but at the same time it is fragile.''
Jazeera has been the Saudi-born militant's main media outlet since the United States launched its military campaign against Afghanistan in October. Washington accuses bin Laden of planning the attacks on US cities, which killed more than 3,000 people.
Unlike earlier messages, which bristled with pledges of more doom, the video tape had no direct threats to the United States.
Instead, bin Laden urged Muslims to ``hit the pillars of the US economy'' and hinted that the attacks would not stop until US forces quit Muslim land -- one of his key demands.
``I summarize by emphasizing the importance of continuing the holy struggle against America, militarily and economically,'' he said toward the end of the 34-minute address -- a rambling sermon in which he shifted between animal fables, military advice, verses from the Koran and his own poetry.
Jazeera said bin Laden's latest dose of anti-Western rhetoric had been mailed from Pakistan.
It did not say how it got the tape or when or where it had been shot. The channel's anchor said it could have been recorded during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan as bin Laden was swallowing constantly. Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, which ended on December 15.
SEPT. 11 ATTACKERS ``GIANTS AND HEROES''
In the excerpts broadcast on Wednesday, bin Laden accused the West of holding an ``indescribable amount of Crusader loathing for Islam.''
Experts said the tape was intended to show the world that he was still alive, at least until the middle of December because he spoke of a US raid that took place at that time.
It showed a tired but composed bin Laden dressed in a military camouflage jacket and sitting in front of a burlap curtain, his Russian-made rifle propped by his side.
His voice remained calm through most of the address but sounded choked up toward the end, as he recited a eulogy to the perpetrators of September's suicide hijacks.
Bin Laden introduced the 19 attackers as role models for Muslims, describing them as ``giants and heroes'' and praising them for ``training in the midst of the enemy.''
He listed their nationalities -- 15 Saudi Arabians, two United Arab Emirates nationals, an Egyptian and a Lebanese -- and suggested that the range of nationalities showed how anger against US policies had spread among Muslims.
He again stopped short of admitting a role in the attacks but said: ``Our terrorism against the United States is blessed... so that America stops its support for Israel.''
In Washington, Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan condemned the tape as ``the usual rhetoric we have seen before from a deviant and cowardly criminal. Bin Laden is deluding himself if he believes that his criminal acts are justified by any religion or principle of humanity.''
``Bin Laden and those associated with him are criminals who must be brought to justice and severely punished,'' he added.
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