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Alleged Al Qaeda tape urges muslims to fight a holy war against U.S.
( 2003-08-18 15:00) (Agencies)

Al Arabiya television aired on Monday an audio tape allegedly 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.

Al Arabiya 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.

The tape also 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.

"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."

"They came to invade and no one could stop them occupying Iraq. But when the young men of Jihad (holy war) started fighting in the name of God and the killing began day and night, they began looking for someone to help them and stand by their side."

"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," the speaker added.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the tape, which was aired on Sunday and rebroadcast on Monday, or the identity of the speaker.

Unlike Kuwaiti-born spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith and other members of the militant network blamed for the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Abdel Rahman al-Najdi has not previously been identified as an al Qaeda member.

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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