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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 January, 2004, 22:31 GMT
Arab TV airs 'new Bin Laden tape'
Osama Bin Laden (l) and Bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahri
Bin Laden remains at large despite a large bounty on his head
A new audiotape said to be from al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden has been aired on al-Jazeera Arabic television.

In the tape, the speaker urges Muslims to continue a jihad, or holy war, and condemns Gulf Arab leaders who supported the US-led invasion of Iraq.

The speaker also refers to the capture by US forces last month of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Al-Jazeera did not say when the tape was made, but its message is similar to one aired in October.

US voice recognition analysts said that recording appeared authentic.

No videotapes of him speaking have been produced since the start of the US-led war in Afghanistan, weeks after the 11 September 2001 attacks on America - which Bin Laden allegedly masterminded.

No dialogue

"There can be no dialogue with occupiers except through arms. This is what we need today and what we should seek," the voice on the 14-minute-long tape says.

"The occupation of Iraq is the beginning of the full occupation of the other Gulf states... because of the presence of the biggest deposits of oil," the speaker says.

We have to liberate the Islamic world from the military occupation of the Crusaders
'Bin Laden' tape
And he goes on to berate Gulf leaders who "succumbed to US pressure and opened their air, land, and sea bases to contribute toward the US campaign, despite the immense repercussions of this move".

Referring to the arrest of Saddam Hussein, the voice on the tape says Arab rulers now fear that dictatorial regimes can be overthrown "by armed force from abroad, especially after they have seen the arrest of their former comrade" - a former US ally.

It also condemns them for their support for the US-sponsored plan for the Middle East, known as the roadmap, and an alternative plan launched last month - the Geneva Accord.

"We have to liberate the Islamic world from the military occupation of the Crusaders by raising up the banner of jihad for God's sake," the speaker said.

US officials believe that Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri are probably in the mountainous border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but do not know if they are together.

The BBC's Louise Bevan
"It is three months since the world last heard from Osama Bin Laden"


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