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Al-Jazeera TV Airs bin Laden Videotape - 2001-12-27


While the United States hunts for Osama bin Laden he appeared on another videotape possibly made in recent weeks and aired on television throughout the Middle East late Thursday night.

In the videotape Osama bin Laden urged Muslims to wage military and economic jihad, or holy war against the United States. Mr. bin Laden said he emphasizes the need of continuing the struggle or Jihad against America economically and militarily. He added that with God's grace America has retreated and economic bleeding is still going on today. But, Mr. bin Laden said, it still needs more attacks and young men, he said, should make more effort to search for ways to attack the central part of the economy.

The videotape was released by Qatar's al-Jazeera television station Thursday night. It is not clear where the videotape was made. Mr. bin Laden pointed out in the tape that his speech was made 90 days after the September 11 attacks in the United States which means the tape could have been made in recent weeks.

Abdel Moneim Said is the head of the al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. He says the 33 minute tape suggests the United States and its allies have more work to do if they intend to bring an end to Osama bin Laden.

"It suggests to the United States that one of its main targets of the campaign is not achieved yet," said Mr. Said. "It also means he intends to keep signaling whoever is supporting his call around the world."

U.S. forces have been searching caves in the mountainous Tora Bora area of eastern Afghanistan where Mr. bin Laden's al-Qaida fighters made their last stand. But for weeks U.S. officials have said they have no indications he is in Tora Bora.

The latest tape showed Mr. bin Laden dressed in a green camouflage military jacket and he spoke in front of a brown backdrop with a machine gun next to his side.

As he spoke he kept his left hand still at his side. It wasn't clear if he was avoiding using his left hand because of a problem or injury.

Abdullah el-Ashaal is an expert on Arab affairs in Cairo. He says if the latest tape is genuine it could be more evidence of Osama Bin Laden's involvement in the September 11 attacks.

"The more you give evidence the more bin Laden will be implicated at least in the public opinion because now the public opinion is no more, no more support for bin Laden," said Mr. el-Ashaal. "Nobody cares for this case now."

In the latest tape Mr. Bin Laden doesn't claim responsibility for the September 11 attacks but he praises them and defends the attacks that even he described as "terror against the United States."

On Wednesday, commenting on the first release of five minutes of tape White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that it is the same kind of terrorist propaganda heard before from Osama bin Laden.

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