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Forget 9/11, more ahead: Al Qaida

Dubai, Sept 7 (Reuters): A purported audio tape by Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida group today vowed attacks on Americans “everywhere” and so devastating that Washington would forget the horror of the September 11 suicide hijackings.

The tape, dated September 3, came a few days before the second anniversary of the September 2001 attacks on US cities — blamed on al Qaida. Washington said last week it was on alert for possible attacks by the militant group.

“We announce there will be new attacks inside and outside which would make America forget the attacks of September 11 (2001),” an al Qaida spokesperson said in the tape broadcast by the Arabic television channel Al Arabiya. He identified himself as Abu Abdel-Rahman al-Najdi. The television showed a still photo of a bearded militant wearing a head-dress as it played the tape. There was no immediate independent verification of the identity of the speaker.

“We assure the Muslims that al Qaida ranks have doubled... Our casualties are nothing compared to our (good) conditions now. Our coming martyrdom operations will prove to you what we are saying,” he added.

Al Qaida has issued five other audio-tapes this year threatening action against the US. Bin Laden and his deputies also made several video appearances in 2001.

The speaker denied any links to the killing of leading Shia cleric Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim in a car bomb attack in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf last month. Some US and Iraqi reports suggested that al Qaida was behind the car bomb attack that killed Hakim and 82 others. “We strongly deny that al Qaida had any hand in this bombing which killed Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim, violated the sanctity of one of God’s houses and killed innocent people.”

“Our highest aim is to fight the Americans and kill them everywhere on earth and drive them out of Palestine, the Arabian peninsula and Iraq.”

The speaker accused Washington and Israel of orchestrating the killing because, he said, they feared the cleric’s links to Iran would boost the Islamic Republic’s influence in the area.

“We have no motives. Those who killed Baqer al-Hakim are the Americans and Jews. They wanted to get rid of him because they know that his loyalty is to Iran,” he added.

Another motive behind the assassination, he added, was to incite Shia-Sunni strife and turn the Shias, who form 60 per cent of Iraq’s population, against the austere Sunni-dominated al Qaida.

The al Qaida spokesperson said that ousted Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar and bin Laden were alive and leading the battle against US forces in Afghanistan.

He urged Muslims to fight the Jihad (holy struggle) against US forces.“God has opened the doors of Jihad in Iraq and Palestine so do not close them.”

FBI and homeland security officials warned last week the US faces threat of attack from al Qaida, saying it still targets Americans and has a presence in US cities two years after the September 11 attacks that killed about 3,000 people.

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