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New Osama bin Laden audio tape threatens Europe

Al Qaeda leader's taped message cites insulting cartoons for severe threat to Europe.

By Paul SchemmThe Associated Press / March 21, 2008

New Threats: An undated audio tape attributed to Osama bin Laden warned Europeans of strong reactions to come.

Al Sahab/AP TELEVISION NEWS

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Osama bin Laden, in a new audio message posted Wednesday, condemned the publication of drawings that he said insulted the prophet Muhammad and warned Europeans of a "severe" reaction to come.

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The message, which appeared on a militant website that has carried Al Qaeda statements in the past and bore the logo of the extremist group's media wing Al Sahab, showed a still image of bin Laden aiming with an assault rifle.

"The response will be what you see and not what you hear and let our mothers bereave us if we do not make victorious our messenger of God," said a voice believed to be bin Laden's, without specifying what action would be taken.

The five-minute message, bin Laden's first in 2008, made no mention of the fifth anniversary Wednesday of the US-led invasion in Iraq.

It came as the Muslim world marked Muhammad's birthday Thursday and amid the reigniting of a two-year-old controversy over some Danish cartoons deemed by Muslims to be insulting. Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet.

On Feb. 13, Danish newspapers republished a cartoon showing Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban to show their commitment to freedom of speech after police said they had uncovered a plot to kill the artist.

Danish intelligence services said the reprinting of the cartoon had brought "negative attention" to Denmark and may have increased the risk to Danes at home and abroad.

The original 12 cartoons, first published in a Danish newspaper, triggered major protests in Muslim countries in 2006. There have been renewed protests in the past month.

Ben Venzke, the head of IntelCenter, a US group that monitors militant messages, called bin Laden's latest message a "clear threat against EU member countries and an indicator of a possible upcoming significant attack."

In the message, bin Laden described the cartoons as taking place in the framework of a new crusade against Islam, in which he said the pope has played a "large and lengthy role."

"You went overboard in your unbelief and freed yourselves of the etiquettes of dispute and fighting and went to the extent of publishing these insulting drawings," he said, according to a transcript released by the SITE Institute, another US group that monitors terror messages. "This is the greater and more serious tragedy, and reckoning for it will be more severe."

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