February 11, 2003
Posted at: 3:20 p.m. CST
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - An audio tape purported to carry the voice of Osama bin Laden called on Iraqis to carry out suicide attacks against Americans and defend themselves against a U.S. attack.
The tape was broadcast on the Al-Jazeera Arab satellite station on Tuesday, the first day of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. The speaker also urged Iraqis to dig trenches and engage in urban warfare to fend off U.S. troops.
"We stress the importance of martyrdom operations against the enemy, these attacks that have scared Americans and Israelis like never before," the speaker said, using a term often used by militants for suicide attacks.
Before the broacast, Secretary of State Colin Powell told a Senate panel Tuesday that he had read a transcript of the statement and that it shows why the world needs to be concerned about Iraqi ties to terrorism.
Powell said that on the tape, "bin Laden — or who we believe to be bin Laden" ... "once again speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq."
Washington insists that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is linked to bin Laden's al-Qaida network and cites that as one reason to launch military action against Iraq.
The speaker on the 16-minute audiotape, purported to be bin Laden, said the United States was waging a psychological war against Iraq and said Iraqis should expect massive bombardment from the air.
He urged the Iraqis to stay strong against a U.S. attack and blunt the force of a U.S. aerial assault by "digging large numbers of trenches and camouflaging them."
He described al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan withstanding heavy U.S. bombardment by hiding in trenches.
"With all the might of the enemy, they were unable to defeat us and take over that position. ... We hope that our brothers in Iraq will do the same as we did."
"We advise about the importance of drawing the enemy into long, close and tiring fighting taking advantage of camouflaged positions in plains, farms, mountains and cities," he said. He added that the enemy is terrified about urban warfare "because they will have big casualties."
The last Bin Laden tape aired on Nov. 12 on Al-Jazeera. Bin Laden, in the statement, promised new terrorist attacks.
Bin Laden urged Muslims not to cooperate with the United States against Iraq, criticizing Arab governments who support the U.S. in its efforts to rid Iraq of its alleged weapons of mass destruction.
"Anyone who helps America, from the Iraqi hypocrites (opposition) or Arab rulers ... whoever fights with them or offers them bases or administrative assistance, or any kind of support or help, even if only with words, to kill Muslims in Iraq, should know that he is an apostate."
Yasser Thabet, a broadcast editor at al-Jazeera, said the tape appears to be authentic because the television station got it through the same means as previous bin Laden statements. He did not elaborate.
"When you listen to the tape, you can tell it's Osama bin Laden's voice," Thabet said.