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Purported New bin Laden Tape Praises Recent Terror Attacks - 2002-11-13

The Arabic language television station Al-Jazeera has broadcast an audio tape of what it says is the voice of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. The voice praises a series of recent attacks around the world against what the speaker described as allies of the United States. One expert in Cairo warned that the tape should not be broadcast.

The voice says the recent attacks were the response of Muslims anxious to defend their religion. It mentions, in particular, the attack on a synagogue in Tunisia, the bombing of the French tanker off the coast of Yemen, the shooting of U.S. Marines in Kuwait, and the explosion at the nightclub in Bali.

The tape also praises the hostage-taking in Moscow by Chechen militants.

Several U.S. intelligence experts have indicated the voice could be that of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, but they can not say for certain. One of them said there is no apparent reason to suggest that it is not him.

But Hala Mustafa says she is not so sure. The expert on extremist organizations at the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo says the tape could have been made by someone imitating Osama bin Laden's voice. She says someone is sending a message to members of the al-Qaida terror network that Mr. bin Laden is alive, but there is no proof of that.

"I think it is something very important," she said, "a symbolic thing. And do not forget that any operational faction needs a leader. Without a leader they feel weaker, so that is why they are using the name of bin Laden. They are using this to mobilize more advocates, especially maybe among younger generation who can support any operation or violent action."

Ms. Mustafa points out that the most recent recordings purported to have been made by Osama bin Laden have been on audio tapes. She says there have been no videotapes that prove the al-Qaida leader is still alive. She also says the audiotape could contain secret messages and warned it should not be aired.

The last new videotape of Osama bin Laden was broadcast nearly a year ago.

On the audiotape aired late Tuesday the voice warns the United States and its allies, "as you kill, you will be killed."