Osama tape spits venom at Israel

May 16, 2008 1:55:18 PM PDT
Osama bin Laden vowed Friday to fight Israel for the liberation of the Palestinians, claiming their cause is at the heart of al-Qaida's holy war with the West. The terrorist leader's third statement this year was released to coincide with the Jewish state's 60th anniversary and came out as President Bush was wrapping up his visit to Israel to celebrate the occasion.

"We will continue our struggle against the Israelis and their allies," bin Laden said in a 10-minute audio posted on an Internet site used frequently by al-Qaida. "We are not going to give up an inch of the land of Palestine."

Al-Qaida is increasingly using the Israeli-Arab conflict in its media campaign to rally supporters. Israel has warned of growing al-Qaida activity in Palestinian territory, although the terror network is not believed to have taken a strong role there so far.

Bin Laden said the Palestinian cause is the most important factor driving al-Qaida's war with the West and claimed it was the motivation for the 19 Muslims, most of them Saudi Arabians, who carried out the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S.

"To Western nations ... this speech is to understand the core reason of the war between our civilization and your civilizations. I mean the Palestinian cause," bin Laden said at the conclusion of his message.

"The Palestinian cause is the major issue for my (Islamic) nation. It was an important element in fueling me from the beginning and the 19 others with a great motive to fight for those subjected to injustice and the oppressed," he said.

The authenticity of the message could not be verified, but the voice resembled the one in past bin Laden audios. While there was no indication of when the message was recorded, it referred to Israel's 60th anniversary, which began May 8.

The audio was accompanied by a photo of bin Laden wearing a white robe and turban next to a picture of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. It was unclear when his picture was taken.

The al-Qaida leader said Western media have tried to brainwash people about Israel over the past 60 years, "portraying the Jewish invaders, the occupiers of our land, as the victims, while it portrayed us as the terrorists."

"Sixty years ago, the Israeli state didn't exist. Instead, it was established on the land of Palestine raped by force," he said. "Israelis are occupying invaders whom we should fight."

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel dismissed bin Laden's message.

"We do not relate or pay attention to the words of this terrorist lunatic," he said. "The time has come for him to be apprehended and pay for his crimes."

Bin Laden is believed to be hiding somewhere in the rugged mountains along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

The al-Qaida chief criticized Western leaders such as Bush who participated in Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations.

Bush feted Israel on Thursday and predicted its 120th birthday would find it alongside a Palestinian state in an all-democratic neighborhood free of today's oppression, restrictions on freedom and extremist Muslim movements.

Bin Laden said Western leaders were insincere in their expressed desire for Israeli-Palestinian peace and failed to criticize Israel.

"Peace talks that started 60 years ago are just meant to deceive the idiots," he said. "After all the destruction and the killings ... your leaders talk about principles. This is unbearable."

The terrorist leader mentioned former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, whose Jewish militia participated in an attack on the Arab village of Deir Yassin, near Jerusalem, in 1948.

More than 100 Arabs died in the fighting and other villagers fled. Arabs contend the raid helped sow widespread fear, which they say was a factor in the displacment of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the war that created Israel.

"Instead of punishing him (Begin) over his crimes ... he was awarded a Nobel prize," bin Laden said.

Begin shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for negotiating a 1979 peace treaty between their countries, Israel's first with an Arab nation.

Bin Laden's message followed an audio released in March in which he lashed out at Palestinian peace negotiations with Israel.

That audio was the first time bin Laden spoke of the Palestinian question at length since the deteriorating situation in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, where the Israeli military has been fighting with militants who fire rockets into southern Israel.