Osama bin Laden accused the West of supporting a “Zionist” war on Islam by cutting off funds to the Palestinian government in an audiotape broadcast on Arab television.
The White House said that U.S. intelligence officials believe the tape, which was broadcast on Al Jazeera on April 23, 2006, is authentic. It is the first bin Laden tape to be broadcast since January, when the Al Qaeda leader warned of new attacks inside the United States, while also offering a conditional truce.
Referring to the decision by the U.S., the European Union, Canada and other countries to freeze financial assistance to the Hamas-led Palestinian government because it refuses to renounce violence or recognize Israel, bin Laden said, “The blockade which the West is imposing on the government of Hamas proves that there is a Zionist, crusaders’ war on Islam.”
In response to bin Laden’s comments, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri distanced the group from bin Laden, saying that “the ideology of Hamas is totally different from the ideology of Sheik bin Laden.” Hamas’ Palestinian government took power last month.
In remarks that can be perceived as justification for targeting civilians, bin Laden said the Western public shared responsibility for the actions of their governments because they “are renewing their allegiance to its rulers and masters.”
Bin Laden urged followers to go to Sudan, his base between 1991 and 1996, to fight a proposed U.N. peacekeeping force. Bin Laden called on “mujahedeen and their supporters, especially in Sudan and the Arab peninsula, to prepare for long war again the crusader plunderers in Western Sudan. Our goal is not defending the Khartoum government but to defend Islam, its land and its people.”
The bin Laden tape, which was apparently edited by Al Jazeera, also called for a global Muslim boycott of American goods.
Al Qaeda leaders, including Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, have issued several audio statements on behalf of Al Qaeda in 2006.