M A I N   N E W S

Osama owns up US plane attack bid, vows more

Dubai, January 24
Osama bin Laden claimed responsibility for the December 25 failed bombing of a US-bound plane and threatened more attacks on the United States, in an audio tape Al Jazeera said on Sunday was of the Al-Qaida leader.

Bin Laden, speaking days ahead of major international meetings on how to deal with militancy in Afghanistan and Yemen, said the attempt to blow up the plane as it neared Detroit was in continuation of the Al-Qaida policy since September 11, 2001.

“The message sent to you with the attempt by the hero Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is a confirmation of our previous message conveyed by the heroes of September 11,” bin Laden said on the tape in a message addressed “from Osama to (US President Barack) Obama”.

“If it was possible to carry our messages to you by words, we wouldn’t have carried them to you by planes,” bin Laden said. The botched Christmas Day attack, claimed last month by the Yemen-based regional wing of the Al-Qaida, and subsequent threats in Yemen sparked global pressure for a crackdown, prompting Sanaa to declare open war on the militant group within its territory.

Defence and counter-terrorism officials say Washington has been quietly supplying military equipment, intelligence and training to Yemen to destroy suspected Al-Qaida hideouts.

Yemen, since the plane bomb attempt, has launched a series of air strikes targeting Al-Qaida leaders and has declared that some top regional leaders, including Qasim al-Raymi and Ayed al-Shabwani, have been killed.

The Al-Qaida denies the deaths, and Yemen has subsequently launched further attacks on the rural home of Shabwani and given no clues as to the result.

On Sunday’s tape, bin Laden cited Washington’s support for Israel as a motivator for more attacks on the United States and vowed to keep on as long as Palestinians could not live in peace.

“Our attacks against you will continue as long as the US support for Israel continues,” he said. “It is not fair that Americans should live in peace as long as our brothers in Gaza live in the worst conditions,” he said. — Reuters




US: Can’t confirm tape authenticity

Washington, January 24
A White House top adviser said today that he could not confirm the authenticity of the audiotape in which Osama bin Laden had purportedly claimed responsibility for the December 25 attempted bombing of a US-bound plane.

“I can’t confirm that (Al-Qaida’s responsibility for the attack), nor can we confirm the authenticity of the tape, but assuming that it is he, his message contains the same hollow justifications for the mass slaughter of innocents that we’ve heard before,” David Axelrod said on CNN’s “State of the Union” programme.

The audiotape that was aired on Al-Jazeera television on today claimed responsibility for the attempted Christmas Day bombing of the Detroit-bound plane. A Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been charged with trying to blow up Northwest Flight 253.

Axelrod said of bin Laden: “The irony is that in the name of Islam he’s killed more Muslims than people from any other religion. He’s a murderer and we’re going to continue to be on the offensive against bin Laden and the Al-Qaida so as to protect American people.” — Reuters



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