Archive for Sunday, June 23, 2002

Bin Laden alive, spokesman says

Rumor about illness and injury ‘has no truth,’ Kuwaiti says in taped message vowing more attacks

June 23, 2002


— Osama bin Laden and his No. 2 man are both alive and well and their al-Qaida network is ready to attack new U.S. targets, bin Laden's spokesman said in audiotaped remarks aired today. The message also claimed responsibility for a deadly April fire at a Jewish synagogue in Tunisia.

The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television network, which has in the past aired videotaped messages of bin Laden and his top lieutenants, said that it received a recorded audiotaped message from Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the Kuwaiti-born spokesman for bin Laden.

There was no way to independently confirm the authenticity of the remarks. The Bush administration has said that it does not know whether bin Laden is alive or dead. There was no immediate reaction Saturday from the White House.

It was not immediately clear when the tape was made or how Al-Jazeera obtained it. No comment from the station was available.

Similar remarks, purportedly made by Abu Ghaith, appeared days earlier on an Arabic-language Web site that issues daily updates on the war in Afghanistan. The tape and the Web site had some of the same quotes and statements, including that bin Laden would soon make a televised address to the Muslim world.

"I want to assure Muslims that Sheik Osama bin Laden ... is in good and prosperous health and all what is being rumored about his illness and injury in Tora Bora has no truth," according to excerpts aired today.

The tape, which was monitored in Beirut, Lebanon, appeared recent. Referring to recent U.S. warnings about imminent al-Qaida threats, Abu Ghaith said the group will choose the right time, place and method.

The warnings were "a cover-up for the ugly face of the onslaught by the Democratic Party against the Republican Party after the American president announced he was aware of the Sept. 11 operations and because of the economic problems the American government was suffering from," Abu Ghaith said.

"I say 'Yes' to what American officials are saying ... that we are going to carry out attacks on America," he said.

Abu Ghaith said al-Qaida still has "the capability to threaten America and execute such threats. The few coming days and months will prove to the whole world, Allah willing, the truth of what we are saying."

He called the Sept. 11 attacks a "great historic victory that broke the backs of the Americans, the strongest power in this world," and referred to previous successes against the Americans: The 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 strike against the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen.

Abu Ghaith also claimed al-Qaida was behind the fuel tanker explosion on the Tunisian island of Jerba, in which 15 people died.

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