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Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 23:12 GMT
'Bin Laden' condemns Iraq plans
Al-Jazeera broadcast of Osama Bin Laden audio statement
Al-Jazeera has aired previous al-Qaeda statements
The Arab-language television station, al-Jazeera, has broadcast a message said to be from Osama bin Laden, in which he calls for Muslims to stand with the Iraqi people against the United States.

The message was contained in a poor quality audio recording in which a man's voice, identified as Bin Laden's, is heard calling for suicide attacks against Americans and resistance to any attack on Iraq.

We stress the importance of martyrdom attacks against the enemy. These attacks inflicted on America and Israel a disaster they have never experienced before

Voice identified as Osama Bin Laden
The Bush administration believes the tape to almost certainly be genuine and officials say the message heralds a "burgeoning alliance of terror".

The broadcast came on the same day that the head of the CIA, George Tenet, warned of an increased risk of al-Qaeda attacks in the US and on the Arabian peninsula using a "dirty bomb" or poisons.

'Muslim brothers'

The US was put on orange alert - the second highest - last week because of threats coming from multiple sources which have strong links to al-Qaeda.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said he had read a transcript of the alleged Bin Laden tape and that it confirmed links between the militant group, blamed for the 11 September attacks, and Iraq.

Security warnings on Washington metro
The US is at its second highest level of alert

Mr Powell last week sought to make a connection between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda during a presentation to the United Nations Security Council.

But the BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, said the figure on the tape voiced support for Iraq, but that in no way did it prove a link between al-Qaeda and the Iraqi leadership.

In the broadcast the speaker addresses his "Muslim brothers in Iraq" and calls for Muslims to show solidarity with the Iraqi people in any confrontation with the US.

He gives practical tips on how Iraqis may resist a military attack by digging trenches and drawing fighting into the cities.

Identity analysed

He said that any Muslim regime which supported a US-led military action against Iraq would be an "apostate".

"All those who co-operate with the Americans against Iraq are hostile to Islam," said the voice on the tape, which was broadcast alongside a photograph of al-Qaeda's fugitive leader.

Several other statements allegedly made by al-Qaeda members, including Bin Laden, have been broadcast by al-Jazeera in the past.

In the past, the US has accused al-Jazeera of being a mouthpiece for al-Qaeda propaganda.

US and Britain on alert

The speaker on the tape repeated previous messages calling for attacks on American targets.

"We stress the importance of martyrdom attacks against the enemy. These attacks inflicted on America and Israel a disaster they have never experienced before," the message said.

Tanks in front of Concorde
Troops and tanks were sent to Heathrow airport

On Tuesday, Mr Tenet said US intelligence officials had received information of a possible attack that was "the most specific we have seen".

Mr Tenet said the areas being targeted were America and the Arabian peninsula and that the information pointed to a possible attack as early as the end of the Hajj festival, later this week.

Mr Tenet added that the information pointed to a dirty bomb plot - in which radioactive materials or poisons could be dispersed.

The head of the FBI, Robert Mueller added his own warning, saying al-Qaeda had the ability to inflict significant casualties in the United States with little warning.

Britain has also massively stepped up security at London's Heathrow airport in response to what a spokesman for Downing Street said was a specific threat.

Tanks and troops were drafted in to guard against what police sources said was a possible rocket attack by al-Qaeda.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Matt Frei reports from Washington
"The timing of the tape does help the US administration"
US Secretary of State Colin Powell
"Bin Laden talks about how he is in partnership with Iraq"
Joseph Cirincione, Former US adviser on Defence
"This war is going to be a huge recruiting activity for al-Qaeda"

Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

12 Feb 03 | Middle East
07 Feb 03 | Politics
05 Feb 03 | Middle East
14 Nov 02 | Middle East
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