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Al-Arabiya Airs New Purported Bin Laden Tape - 2003-12-20

An audiotape purportedly recorded by al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden criticizes the U.S. war in Iraq as part of a new crusade against Islam.

The Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite television channel broadcast the five-minute audiotape Saturday. In the recording, the voice, attributed to bin Laden, calls for a "jihad," or holy war, until Islamic governments are established in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Israeli Occupied Territories.

The voice also says the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States were "blessed by God" and have cost America more than one trillion dollars. Al-Arabiya did not give a date for the recording.

Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence officials said Saturday that the voice on an audiotape purportedly recorded by al-Qaida's number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is "most likely" authentic.

The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television network broadcast that tape on Friday.

On the recording, the voice says al-Qaida is pursuing Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, and even in their homeland.

The Arab satellite network did not say when the audiotape was recorded, but the speaker made references to events that occurred in October.

The terrorist leader also says attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq are part of resistance by Muslim militants and ordinary Iraqis, rejecting U.S. statements that supporters of Saddam Hussein are carrying out the strikes.