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Tape says bin Laden Calls on Iraqis to Attack Americans

Tape says bin Laden Calls on Iraqis to Attack Americans

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- An audio tape purported to carry the voice of Osama bin Laden called on Iraqis to carry out suicide attacks against Americans and defend themselves against a U.S. attack.

The speaker in the tape, broadcast Tuesday on the al-Jazeera Arab satellite station, described al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan withstanding heavy U.S. bombardment by hiding in trenches.

"With all the might of the enemy, they were unable to defeat us and take over that position. ... We hope that our brothers in Iraq will do the same as we did," said the voice, purported to be bin Laden's.

The speaker said the United States was waging a psychological war against Iraq and said Iraqis should expect massive bombardment from the air.

"We stress the importance of suicide bombings against the enemy, these attacks that have scared Americans and Israelis like never before," the speaker said.

Before the broacast, Secretary of State Colin Powell told a Senate panel Tuesday that he had read a transcript of the statement and that it shows why the world needs to be concerned about Iraqi ties to terrorism.

Powell said that on the tape, "bin Laden -- or who we believe to be bin Laden" ... "once again speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq."

He urged the Iraqis to stay strong against a U.S. attack and blunt the force of a U.S. aerial assault by "digging large numbers of trenches and camouflaging them."

He also advised the Iraqis to draw the Americans into combat in the cities "because they will have big casualties."

The last Bin Laden tape aired on Nov. 12 on al-Jazeera. Bin Laden, in the statement, promised new terrorist attacks.

Bin Laden urged Muslims not to cooperate with the United States against Iraq, criticizing Arab governments who support the U.S. in its efforts to rid Iraq of its alleged weapons of mass destruction.

"Anyone who helps America, from the Iraqi hypocrites (opposition) or Arab rulers ... whoever fights with them or offers them bases or administrative assistance, or any kind of support or help, even if only with words, to kill Muslims in Iraq, should know that he is an apostate."

Yasser Thabet, a broadcast editor at al-Jazeera, said the tape appears to be authentic because the television station got it through the same means as previous bin Laden statements. He did not elaborate.

"When you listen to the tape, you can tell it's Osama bin Laden's voice," Thabet said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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