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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 December, 2003, 19:12 GMT
'Bin Laden blasts Iraq crusade'
Osama Bin Laden
The al-Qaeda leaders are still on the run
An audiotape thought to be from the al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden said the war in Iraq is part of a "crusade" against Muslims.

The tape was broadcast by the al-Arabiya satellite channel on Saturday.

The Dubai-based channel did not give a date for the recording, which appeared the same as one broadcast in October.

On Friday, an audio tape said to be from Bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahri taunted United States efforts to stabilise Afghanistan.

US officials say the two are probably in the mountainous border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but do not know if they are together.

Old tape?

"Know that this war is a new crusade against the Islamic world and is a critical war for the whole Islamic nation," said the voice on the tape broadcast on Saturday.

On it the speaker, thought to be Bin Laden attacked "collaborator governments appointed by the United States".

He included Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian prime minister who stepped down on 6 September, suggesting the message was recorded before then.

On 18 October, Arabic language television station al-Jazeera broadcast what appeared to be the same tape recording.


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