Egypt Osama bin Laden urged Muslims to launch a jihad against Israel, seeking to harness anger over the Gaza offensive with a new message posted on the Internet on Wednesday.
The al-Qaida chief vowed to open “new fronts” against the U.S. and its allies beyond Iraq and Afghanistan and also criticized Arab leaders, accusing most of them of being allies of the U.S. and Israel.
The White House dismissed the call to jihad, saying it reflects bin Laden’s isolation and shows he is trying to remain relevant at a time when his ideology and mission are being challenged.
Bin Laden spoke in a 22-minute audiotape posted on Islamic militant Web sites where al-Qaida usually issues its messages. The 51-year-old al-Qaida leader has been in hiding since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, believed to be living somewhere along the lawless Pakistan-Afghan border.
It was bin Laden’s first tape since May.