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Al-Jazeera Airs New Bin Laden Audio Tape


The Arabic television network Al-Jazeera has aired what it says is a new audio tape from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in which he calls on Palestinians to reject negotiations and use "iron and fire" against Israel.

A voice described as bin Laden's also urged Muslims to support the insurgency in Iraq as a way to liberate Palestine.

The authenticity of the tape could not be immediately verified.

Thursday's development comes one day after bin Laden warned that the European Union will be severely punished for publishing satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in European newspapers. He issued the warning in a recording posted to an al-Qaida-affiliated Web site.

U.S. officials say the Central Intelligence Agency is confident the voice on that audiotape belongs to bin Laden.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino Thursday said the recording shows that bin Laden is again trying to establish himself as the defender of Muslims. But she said al-Qaida continues to target innocent people and bring death and destruction to those who do not agree with its views.

The cartoons first appeared in Danish newspapers in 2005.

In the recording, bin Laden said the cartoons are part of a "new crusade" against Islam in which the Vatican has played a large and lengthy role.

The Vatican today rejected the accusations, and said Pope Benedict has criticized the cartoons.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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