Purported bin Laden tape slams U.S. role in Pakistan

Osama bin Laden is seen in an image taken from a videotape that aired on Al-Jazeera in September 2003.
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden purportedly issued another statement Wednesday, saying U.S. policy in Pakistan has generated "new seeds of hatred and revenge against America."

Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language TV network, aired segments of what it said was a “voice recording by bin Laden.” This message comes as President Obama begins his trip to the Middle East, where he is visiting Saudi Arabia on Wednesday and, in Egypt on Thursday, is to make a major speech to the Muslim world. This would be bin Laden’s first assessment of an Obama policy. CNN analysis of the audiotape as it aired indicates that the voice on the tape sounds like bin Laden’s. Since the message was not posted on the usual radical Islamist Web site that carries statements from al Qaeda, it is believed that this latest message was hand-delivered to the TV network, based in Doha, Qatar. Watch what the speaker says on the tape » It was believed to have been recorded several weeks ago when the mass civilian exodus occurred because of fighting in northwestern Pakistan. The message refers to the conflict in Pakistan’s Swat Valley — where Pakistani troops are taking on Taliban militants — and it argued that Obama is proving that he is “walking the same road of his predecessors to build enmity against Muslims and increasing the number of fighters, and establishing more lasting wars.” The speaker cited strikes, destruction and Obama’s “order” to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari “to prevent the people of Swat from implementing sharia law.”

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“All this led to the displacement of about a million Muslim elders, women and children from their villages and homes. They became refugees in tents after they were honored in their own homes,” the message said. “This basically means that Obama and his administration put new seeds of hatred and revenge against America. The number of these seeds is the same as the number of those victims and refugees in Swat and the tribal area in northern and southern Waziristan.” The message added: “The American people need to prepare to only gain what those seeds bring up.” In March, bin Laden also issued purported messages. He called for Somalia’s new president to be overthrown and called Israel’s recent offensive in Gaza a “holocaust.” Bin Laden has delivered many messages over the years, but the last video message from him was in early September 2007. In the video message, he criticized U.S. Democrats for failing to stop the war in Iraq; spoke of the anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II; the troop surge in Iraq; and world leaders such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. On that tape, bin Laden’s appearance was artificially changed for the first time. He dyed his beard from grayish white to black, leading analysts to believe that he is only sending audio messages because he is altering his looks and doesn’t want people to know what he looks like. Analysts also believe that bin Laden hasn’t made videos lately because they are more labor-intensive to produce. There have been gaps between videos from bin Laden, with many audiotapes in between, prompting analysts to theorize he might be dead. The last two videos of bin Laden himself delivering an address were the 2007 tape and another in 2004. Al Qaeda’s second in command issued an audio statement Tuesday that said Obama is not welcome in Egypt. Ayman al-Zawahiri said relations with the United States cannot be mended so long as the administration maintains its alliance with Israel.

In a message called “Tyrants of Egypt and America’s agents welcome Obama” that was posted on Islamist Web sites, al-Zawahiri once again lashed out at the United States. Obama’s message to the Muslim world, he said, has already been delivered with his support for “Zionist aggression.” In the 10-minute audio message, al-Zawahiri said Obama had already made himself an enemy of Muslims by sending more soldiers to Afghanistan, ordering bombings in the tribal areas of Pakistan and administering a “bloody campaign against Muslims” in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.