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Al-Qaida Threatens Retaliation if Afghan Detainees Held by US are Harmed - 2003-08-03

An audiotape purported to be by the second in command of the al-Qaida terror group has been broadcast on an Arab television station. It warns there will be retaliation if any harm comes to the detainees from Afghanistan being held at a U.S. naval base in Cuba.

The man speaking on the tape is said to be that of Ayman al-Zawahri, a top deputy of al-Qaida terror network leader Osama bin Laden.

The voice warns that the United States will pay a high price if harm comes to the detainees from the Afghanistan conflict being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The taped message, broadcast on the Dubai-based Arab satellite TV station al-Arabiya, said the real battle against the United States has yet to begin.

The United States is holding more than 600 people, many of them suspected al-Qaida terrorists, at the Guantanamo base. Last month American officials announced that as many as six of the detainees may face a military trial that could result in death sentences. But since then Washington has said it would not seek death sentences for three of the suspects.

Washington blames al-Qaida for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.