US can't authenticate bin Laden tape

In new audio message, al-Qaida chief claims responsibility for failed Detroit plane attack.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
January 24, 2010 17:48
2 minute read.
US can't authenticate bin Laden tape

bin laden 298.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

White House officials said Sunday they could not immediately authenticate a new audio message purportedly by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden that claimed responsibility for the plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

But White House adviser David Axelrod told CNN's "State of the Union" that whatever the source, the message "contains the same hollow justification for the mass slaughter of innocents."

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In the message released early Sunday, bin Laden threatened more attacks on the United States.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said "nobody's had a chance to authenticate that tape," and he declined comment on whether the US believes bin Laden played any role in the Christmas incident.

Speaking on "Fox News Sunday," Gibbs said, "Everybody in this world understands that this is somebody that has to pop up in our lives over an audio tape because he's nothing but a cowardly murderous thug and terrorist that will some day - hopefully soon - be brought to justice."

The minute-long recording was carried by the Al-Jazeera Arabic news channel. Bin Laden addresses US President Barack Obama and says the failed Christmas attack was meant to send a message similar to that of the September 11 attacks.

"The message delivered to you through the plane of the heroic warrior Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a confirmation of the previous messages sent by the heroes of the September 11," he said.

"America will never dream of security unless we will have it in reality in Palestine," he added. "God willing, our raids on you will continue as long as your support to the Israelis will continue."

On Christmas Day, Nigerian national Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up the Northwest Airlines flight he was sitting on as it approached Detroit Metro Airport. But the bomb he was hiding in his underwear failed to explode.

He told federal agents shortly afterward that he had been trained and instructed in the plot by al-Qaida operatives in Yemen.

There was no way to confirm the voice was actually that of Bin Laden, but it resembled previous recordings attributed to him.

In the past year, Bin Laden's messages have concentrated heavily on the plight of the Palestinians in attempt to rally support across the region.

Many analysts believe that bin Laden is worried about Obama's popularity across the Middle East with his promises to withdraw from Iraq and personal background, so the al-Qaida leader is focusing on the close US-Israeli relationship.

The situation of the Palestinians since Operation Cast Lead, especially in the blockaded Gaza Strip, angered many in the Arab world.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andy David dismissed the latest al-Qaida message and its attempt to link Israel with attacks on the US

"This is nothing new, he has said this before. Terrorists always look for absurd excuses for their despicable deeds," David said.

The last public message from bin Laden appears to have been on September 26, when he demanded that European countries pull their troops out of Afghanistan. The order came in an audiotape that also warned of "retaliation" against nations that are allied with the United States in fighting the war.


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