Al-Qaida leader declares U.S. has resorted to Saddam’s ‘barbaric’ tactics
CAIRO, Egypt - Osama bin Laden promised never to be captured alive and declared the United States had resorted to the same “barbaric” tactics used by Saddam Hussein, according to an audiotape purportedly by the al-Qaida leader that was posted Monday on a militant Web site.
The tape appeared to be a complete version of one that was first broadcast Jan. 19 on Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab satellite channel, in which bin Laden offered the United States a long-term truce but also said his al-Qaida terror network would soon launch a fresh attack on American soil.
“I have sworn to only live free. Even if I find bitter the taste of death, I don’t want to die humiliated or deceived,” bin Laden said, in the 11-minute, 26-second tape.
Bin Laden links U.S., Saddam
In drawing the comparison to American military behavior in Iraq to that of Saddam, the speaker said:
“The jihad is continuing with strength, for Allah be all the credit, despite all the barbarity, the repressive steps taken by the American Army and its agents, to the extent that there is no longer any mentionable difference between this criminality and the criminality of Saddam.”
By using that language to describe Saddam, bin Laden appeared to be denying assertions by the Bush administration that the former Iraqi leader had ties to al-Qaida — ties that were given as one rationale for invading Iraq.
Bin Laden also challenged Bush administration assertions that it was better to fight terrorists in Iraq than on U.S. soil.
“The war against America and its allies has not remained confined to Iraq as he (Bush) claims, but rather Iraq has become a point of attraction and recruitment of qualified forces,” the speaker said.
“What’s more, the mujahideen, by the grace of Allah, have been able to penetrate time after time all the security procedures undertaken by the oppressive countries of the alliance as evidence by what you have seen, in terms of bombings in the capital of the most important European states.”
The tape’s release in January came days after a U.S. airstrike in Pakistan that targeted bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, and reportedly killed four leading al-Qaida figures, including possibly al-Zawahri’s son-in-law. There was no mention of the attack on the segments that were broadcast.
In the full tape posted Monday, bin Laden engaged in renewed propaganda, mocking Bush’s aircraft carrier declaration in April 2003 that major conflict in Iraq had ended.
“The Pentagon’s figures indicate an increase in the number of your killed and injured in addition to the massive material losses, not to mention the collapse of troop morale and the increase of the suicide rates among them,” the speaker said.
Speaking directly to the American people, he said:
“You can rescue whatever you can from this hell. The solution is in your hands, if their (U.S. troops’) situation matters to you at all.”
The initial excerpts had been the first tape from the al-Qaida leader in more than a year — the longest period without a message since the Sept. 11, 2001 suicide hijackings in the United States.
The CIA last month authenticated the voice on the initial recording as that of bin Laden, an agency official told The Associated Press at the time. The al-Qaida leader is believed to be hiding in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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