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Together, the two messages appeared to be a more direct push by the terror network's leadership to use widespread anger over the Gaza violence to whip up support.
Zawahiri is listed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation website as one of its most wanted terrorists, and the Associated Press reports that the two messages have raised concerns Al Qaeda could be planning new attacks in the West.
The increased focus on the Palestinian issue also reflects the terror network's desire to show it is up to date on the latest events in the region, even as al Zawahri, bin Laden, and other leaders are believed to remain in hiding in the Afghan-Pakistan border region.
"The nearest jihad battlefield to support our people in Palestine is the battlefield of Iraq … It should be taken care of and supported," he said in the audiotape released on Thursday.
"Palestine cannot be retaken by negotiations and dialogue, but with fire and iron."
Earlier, bin Laden warned Europe of a "reckoning" for publishing controversial cartoons satirizing the prophet Muhammad. Bin Laden said publishing the "insulting drawings" was a greater crime than Western forces targeting Muslim villages and killing women and children. He said the publication of the cartoons was part of a "new crusade," involving the Catholic Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican rejected the accusation, The New York Times reports.
The audio message was addressed to the "intelligent ones in the European Union" and had been posted on a militant website, and an English translation was distributed by the SITE Intelligence Group in Bethesda, Md. In the five-minute message, the speaker said there would be a "severe" reaction to the publication of cartoons that many Muslims consider offensive to the prophet Muhammad. Bin Laden's message coincided with the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war, reports the Associated Press.