DUBAI - Arabic news channel Al Jazeera has today broadcast an audio tape purported to be Osama bin Laden saying last month's Bali bombings were justified.
Three New Zealanders were among the more than 180 people who died when a car bomb exploded outside a crowded bar in Kuta Beach on October 12.
"The events since the New York and Washington raids until today - such as the killing of Germans in Tunisia and the French in Karachi, the blowing up of the French supertanker in Yemen, the killing of the Marines in the (Kuwaiti) island of Failaka, the killing of the British and Australians in Bali, the recent (hostage-taking) operation in Moscow, and other operations here and there - were only reactions based on equal treatment," the speaker on the tape said.
"They were carried out by pious Muslims defending their religion and heeding God's orders and those of his Prophet ..."
The speaker hailed anti-Western attacks in Bali, Kuwait, Yemen and Jordan and last month's hostage-taking in Moscow and warned US allies -- including a specific mention of Australia -- they would be targets of new attacks if they continued to back the "White House gang of butchers".
If authenticated, the tape would be the clearest evidence yet that bin Laden survived the US-led military campaign in Afghanistan that toppled his Taleban hosts and sought to flush out al Qaeda, which Washington blames for last year's September 11 attacks.
In Washington, US officials said the voice on the tape would be analysed to determine if it was indeed that of the al Qaeda leader.
"We've seen these reports, and we will analyse the recording. We don't know if it's him or not," said Sean McCormack, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.
Jazeera, which did not say how it obtained the tape, has often carried statements by bin Laden and his lieutenants. The most recent event mentioned in the tape took place on October 28.
"Do your governments not know the White House gang are the biggest butchers of the era?... Why should your governments ally themselves with America," said the man, whose voice resembled that of bin Laden.
He accused the United States and its allies of harming Muslims in the Palestinian territories and other areas and warned: "As you kill, you will be killed."
The speaker said his message was particularly addressed to the people of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Australia.
"The road to safety for the West starts with stopping aggression," he said.
"We had warned Australia about its participation in Afghanistan (war)... It ignored the warning until it woke up to the sound of explosions in Bali," he said.
He stopped short of claiming responsibility for last month's attack in Bali.
He also referred to the murder of a senior administrator of the US Agency for International Development, who was gunned down in Jordan on October 28.
A US marine was killed earlier in October in an attack on US forces conducting a military exercise in Kuwait, and on October 6 the French-flagged supertanker Limburg was attacked off Yemen. A blast blew a hole in its hull and the vessel was gutted by fire.
The tape also referred to the taking of hundreds of hostages by Chechen guerrillas at a Moscow theatre last month, in which 128 hostages died when Russian forces stormed the theatre.
Jazeera last month broadcast what it said was the voice of bin Laden threatening more attacks on the United States. But the tape did not refer to any particular events to help establish when it was made.
Extracts from the 'bin Laden' tape
Links: Terror in America - the Sept 11 attacks
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