Al-Qaida tape urges more terror attacks

Bin Laden's deputy said to be voice of message directed at Muslim youth

October 02, 2004|By COX NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON - A message yesterday, apparently from a top al-Qaida figure, urged more attacks against Western nations and implored Muslim youth to "follow the path" even if the militant networks' leaders "die or are detained."

The audio recording played on the Arab network Al-Jazeera is the second in less than a month believed to be by Ayman al-Zawahri, who, with Osama bin Laden, founded al-Qaida. The United States has offered a $25 million reward for his capture or death.

An intelligence official said that after technical analysis of the about three-minute audio recording, there was "high confidence" that the speaker is al-Zawahri.

In the recording, he called for attacks on the United States, Britain and other countries including Australia, Poland, France and Japan.

"The youth must not wait for anyone," al-Zawahri said, according to the network, "and must begin resisting from now and learn a lesson from Iraq and Afghanistan and Chechnya."

Sumit Ganguly, a professor at Indiana University and an expert on terrorism, said he was not surprised that al-Zawahri would refer to the breakaway Russian region of Chechnya, where Muslim separatists recently killed more than 300 adults and children in a siege at a school in a nearby region.

"Whether or not there's a connection, there's an attempt to draw a connection because they are trying to make this appear to be part of a worldwide uprising," Ganguly said.

While al-Qaida has long used video and audio recruiting tools, interest in their messages has increased greatly since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan eliminated its sanctuary and forced its leaders into hiding.

Tapes released by al-Qaida and its leaders are scrutinized for possible messages or signals to followers.

After a lengthy silence, al-Zawahri was heard from in a tape played Sept. 10, 2003. His previous message was a videotape played Sept. 9.

Communication from leaders to those carrying out plans is difficult, said Danielle Pletka, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

"So what you see is that they try and use creative ways to communicate," she said. "They don't have telephones, they no longer use satellite phones. They don't use cell phones, and they're very leery about using the Internet. So what they do is deliver these messages."

U.S. security officials have raised concern about the possibility of al-Qaida's attempting to disrupt elections next month.

In Spain, which had been a strong U.S. ally in the war against Iraq, a deadly train bombing occurred shortly before an election.

The ruling party lost, and there have been reports that al-Qaida credited the attack with influencing the voting.

Some believe that militants are also attempting to influence the political process in other countries, such as Britain, the home of a hostage in Iraq captured last month and displayed in video shown on Al-Jazeera.

"Al-Qaida is extremely politically savvy," Pletka said.

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