An audio recording ostensibly by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden calls Israel’s recent offensive in Gaza a "holocaust."
Arabic-language news network Al-Jazeera aired the message Saturday but could not verify whether it was from bin Laden. The network did not say how it obtained the recording. Israel launched a military offensive in Gaza on December 27 to stop Hamas rocket strikes on southern Israel. The air and land campaign ended January 18 and left about 1,300 Palestinians dead. Thirteen Israelis died. “The Gaza holocaust is an historic event and a tragic turning point. The road of returning Al-Aqsa needs righteous leadership,” the message said, referring to the Jerusalem mosque regarded as the third-holiest place in Islam. Al Qaeda says it wants to liberate the mosque from Israeli control. The message says it’s “clear” some Arab leaders have “conspired” with what it calls the “Zionist-crusader alliance” against the Palestinians in Gaza. (Jihadists refer to Christians as crusaders.) “They (the Arab leaders) are the ones that America describes as the moderate leaders in our world,” the message says. The speaker urges Muslims to help insurgents “liberate” Iraq “so they can defeat the greatest ally to the Zionists,” a reference to the United States. Then, the fighters should move on to Jordan to “liberate all of Palestine from the sea to the river” from Israel. When talking about Palestine, the speaker is referring to the region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River that includes the Jewish state of Israel and the Palestinian lands of the West Bank and Gaza. In his last purported audio message in January, bin Laden called for a jihad, or holy war, to stop Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. Bin Laden’s January message also taunted the United States about its economic troubles and speculated about the new administration of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.