Tape purportedly by bin Laden deputy urges Muslim youths to attack the United States and its allies

Thursday, September 30th 2004, 10:28 am
By: News On 6

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) _ An audiotape that surfaced Friday purportedly by al-Qaida's second-in-command urges Muslim youths to take the initiative and strike the United States and its allies.

The tape aired by Al-Jazeera television identified the speaker as Ayman al-Zawahri, an Egyptian-born confidante of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Less than a month ago, a videotape showed al-Zawahri proclaiming that the United States would be defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the recording broadcast Friday, which surfaced hours after President Bush and Sen. John Kerry debated the U.S. war on terror and the search for bin Laden. The date the audiotape was made could not be determined from the segments aired. In Washington, a U.S. official said the CIA was aware of the tape and was looking at it.

The audiotape threatened interests of the United States and many of its allies, and urged young Muslims not to hesitate in acting against them.

``The youth must not wait for anyone and must begin resisting from now _ and take experience and lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan and Chechnya,'' the speaker said.

Dia'a Rashwan, an expert on Islamic militants, said al-Zawahri's comments appeared to be calling for a new strategy.

``He's saying Muslims should attack before their countries are occupied. He is calling for action, instead of reaction,'' Rashwan said.

The voice sounded like past recordings of al-Zawahri, but it also made an unusual reference to the possibility al-Qaida's top leaders are not invincible. There is a $25 million U.S. bounty for information leading to his death or capture.

``You, youth of Islam, this is our message,'' the speaker said. ``If we die or are detained, continue the path after us, and don't betray God and his prophet, and don't knowingly betray the trust.''

Rashwan played down the significance of such remarks.

``According to his belief, being killed is normal and expected, especially in his case,'' Rashwan said. ``This is not the first time he has said this. It doesn't mean they are close to being captured or killed.''

The speaker generally sounded more upbeat than previous tapes attributed to al-Zawahri.

``The interests of the Americans, British, Australians, French, Polish, Norwegians, South Koreans and Japanese are spread everywhere,'' the speaker said. ``We must not wait more ... or we will be devoured one country after the other.''

The tape said the countries cited had taken part in occupying Afghanistan or Iraq or Chechnya and had given Israel ``means of survival.''

Norway's Justice Minister, Odd Einar Doerum, said the tape would be evaluated by his country's intelligence service. ``We take every threat seriously and will investigate,'' he said on the state radio network NRK.

An Al-Jazeera producer said the tape was ``supposedly received today,'' by the usual means, which he refused to discuss. The station broadcast almost four minutes in two clips of a longer recording, and, as usual, was not planning to air the full tape.

Station officials would not comment on the contents of unaired segments.