Stop helping US in war, Laden asks Europeans
al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden called on Europeans to stop helping the United States in the war in Afghanistan, according to a new tape released Thursday.
Bin Laden said it was unjust for the United States to have invaded Afghanistan for sheltering him after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, saying he was the "only one responsible" for the deadly assaults on New York and Washington.
"The events of Manhattan were retaliation against the American-Israeli alliance's aggression against our people in Palestine and Lebanon, and I am the only one responsible for it. The Afghan people and government knew nothing about it. America knows
that," the al-Qaeda leader said.
Two brief excerpts of the tape titled "Message to the European Peoples" were initially broadcast Thursday on Al-Jazeera television. An English transcript of the entire five-minute tape was later provided to The Associated Press by the SITE Institute and the IntelCentre, both private groups that monitor terror web sites. The tape was released as a video but the groups said that the only image was an old photo of bin Laden.
The message appeared to be another attempt by the terror mastermind to influence public opinion in the West. In 2004, he offered Europeans a truce if they stopped attacking Muslims, then later spoke of a truce with the US In both cases, al-Qaeda then denounced those areas for not accepting its offer.
In the latest tape, bin Laden said that Afghans have been caught up in decades of struggle, first "at the hands of the Russians ... and before their wounds had healed and their grief had ended, they were invaded without right by your unjust governments."
Bin Laden went on that the war was "waged against the Afghans without right", and that coalition troops have not followed the "protocol of warfare." He said the result was that most bomb victims have been women and children.
"I have personally witnessed incidents like these, and the matter continues on an almost daily basis," he said.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack dismissed the new tape as typical of bin Laden's tactics and expressed faith in the European allies.
"I think our Nato allies understand quite clearly what is at stake in Afghanistan as well as elsewhere around the world in fighting the war on terror," he told reporters. "It's going to require a sustained commitment over a period of time and we have seen that kind of commitment from our European allies."
FBI analysts were reviewing the tape but were not immediately able to say when it might have been recorded nor could they provide other details. Spokesman Richard Kolko said it was being examined "to determine if it is authentic and for any intelligence value."
"As the FBI has said since 9/11, bin Laden was responsible for the attack," Kolko said in a statement. "In this latest tape, he again acknowledged his responsibility. This should help to clarify for all the conspiracy theorists, again the 9/11 attack was done by bin Laden and al-Qaeda."