Bin Laden threatens Israel with holy war over Gaza



 
A new audio recording purported to be from Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden has called on Muslims to wage jihad against Israel over its offensive in Gaza. If verified, the recording marks the first issued by Bin Laden since May 2008.
 
By ALEXANDRA SANDELS
 
OSAMA TAPES GAZA
Seven years, several wars and untold trillions of dollars spent for the war on terror and Osama bin Laden is still alive according to his latest audio tape released on Al Qaeda's website Ah Sahab. © Ah Sahab

BEIRUT, January 15, 2009 (MENASSAT) - The 22-minute long audio message, “A Call for Jihad to Stop the Aggression against Gaza,” was dated to the current month in the Islamic calendar and reportedly appeared on Islamic websites on Wednesday.

"God has bestowed us with the patience to continue the path of jihad. The question is can America continue its war with us for several more decades to come? Reports and evidence would suggest otherwise,” said the voice believed to be that of Bin Laden, in the tape. 

It said that Jihad – or holy “struggle” in Arabic - was the only way to reclaim “Jerusalem and Palestine” and “bring the return of al-Aqsa” – referring to the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem - one of the holiest sites in Islam.

Media reports claim that it is not possible to verify the voice in the message.

Meanwhile, the BBC’s Security Correspondent Frank Gardner-one of the few western journalists who have interviewed Bin Laden, told the BBC the voice in the tape “is the same, if sounding a little tired.”

“But,” Garner said, “The message from the world's number-one fugitive is right up to date. Probably the last thing the outgoing President Bush wanted to hear in his final week in office was the man behind the 9/11 attacks and a reminder that he has never been caught.”

The alleged Bin Laden statement aimed staunch criticism towards the governments of Arab countries in their handling of Israel’s war on Gaza and warned Muslims not to put their trust in Arab leaders: “...the great majority of whom are allied with the Crusader-Zionist coalition,” the tape

Palestinian medical officials in Gaza said on Thursday that the number of Palestinians killed in Israel’s offensive had passed 1,028. Nearly a third are said to be children. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers, have so far been killed.

"Our brothers in Palestine, you have suffered a lot... the Muslims sympathize with you in what they see and hear. We, the mujahideen, sympathize with you also….. We are with you and we will not let you down. Our fate is tied to yours in fighting the Crusader-Zionist coalition, in fighting until victory or martyrdom." said the voice in the message, purported to be Bin Laden.

The message also called for donations to finance the fight the holy war – “tithes from any of the great Muslim or Arab traders…for jihad on all fronts.”

Moreover, the recording message said Israel's offensive was a desperate attempt to benefit from the last days of the Bush administration.

The Bush administration, on the other hand, has brushed off the tape saying it is a desperate measure. "It appears this tape demonstrates his isolation and continued attempts to remain relevant at a time when al Qaeda's ideology, mission and agenda are being questioned and challenged throughout the world," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

"This also looks to be an effort to raise money as part of their ongoing propaganda campaign," he added.

The FBI said it did not find a "specific or credible threat" in the message to the inauguration of US President-elect Barack Obama.
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(Sources: Al Jazeera, BBC, Reuters)